50 Delicious Quinoa Recipes That Aren't Just Salads
10 Delicious Quinoa Recipes That Aren't Salads
Quinoa-Crusted Fish Nuggets with Tartar Sauce
Quinoa is a gluten-free source of protein, iron, and fiber, plus it's a quick and flavorful way to get in a serving of whole grains. You can find beige, red, black, or tricolor quinoa in stores; they all taste the same, so use whichever color you prefer. These freezer-friendly quinoa nuggets give store bought ones a run for their money. Any firm white fish will work, such as grouper, halibut, flounder, or cod. Use rice flour to make gluten-free nuggets.
Egg-Topped Quinoa Bowl
Here, the yolk of the fried egg serves as a dressing (without you having to do anything extra) to coat nutrient-dense quinoa. Pancetta adds a snap of savory satisfaction to earthy kale, while all-season cherry tomatoes, meaning you can make it whenever, lend a fresh pop of bright flavor. Sub steel-cut oats, bulgur, or leftover brown rice for quinoa. The hot sauce gives this simple dish a kick in the pants.
Toasting quinoa, like with toasting nuts or other whole grains, draws out its aroma and deepens and intensifies its flavor. New York City chef and Chopped judge Amanda Freitag uses a gardenful of vegetables in this light yet hearty soup, making it the kind of dish that can be adapted to the seasons. Try it in the spring with baby carrots and artichokes, fava beans, and asparagus. A summer version might include corn, okra, green beans, and eggplant. For a vegan version, simply substitute unsalted vegetable stock for the chicken stock. The onion, carrot, red pepper, and garlic serve as the soup’s mirepoix, a sautéed melange of veggies that make up the flavor base for the broth.
Spinach-Quinoa Cakes with Bell Pepper Relish
Try this hearty entrée for your next Meatless Monday dinner. The quinoa cakes are a little bit like a veggie burger, but bigger and softer in texture. We enhance fluffy cooked quinoa by loading in chopped spinach for color and sweet-peppery flavor, plus goat cheese for creaminess and tang. The simple bell pepper relish offers a fresh, crunchy finishing touch. Serve with a tossed lettuce-based salad, on a bed of mashed cauliflower, or with a shaved vegetable salad—make ribbons of carrots, zucchini, cucumber, and yellow squash with a vegetable peeler.
Kale and Mushroom Quinoa with Romesco
You'll have plenty of smoky romesco sauce—enough for a generous dollop on top. Meaty, no-prep mushrooms add richness and earthiness to gravies, sautés, and stir-fries.
Lemon-Garlic Shrimp with Radish and Green Bean Quinoa
Radishes become tender and blushing pink when sautéed, a lovely addition to the quinoa. Move over, spuds and rice. Quick-cooking quinoa is a protein-packed whole grain that's the new everyday starch in your pantry. Red onion is pungent enough to hold its own, sturdy enough to add great crunch, and pretty enough to showcase.
Quinoa Taco Salad
We’ve given your favorite Tex-Mex salad a wholesome upgrade with nutrient and fiber-dense quinoa, black beans, and chunks of sweet potato. Serve this over greens, in a lettuce wrap or taco shell, or sprinkled over chips with a little melted queso for a fun twist on nachos. If you can’t find tri-color quinoa, regular is just as delicious.
Quinoa Rhubarb Muffins With Pistachios
These whole grain muffins combine rhubarb's signature tartness with the sweet flavors of honey and vanilla. Whole-wheat pastry flour keeps the texture light and moist, while quinoa adds a punch of protein. These whole-grain beauties are perfect for spring, and a nutritious option for weekday breakfasts or a snack on the go.
Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Nuggets
These crispy nuggets are worth nibbling—and a great way to use leftover quinoa. Kick the sauce up a notch with a dash of Sriracha, if you like. Garlic powder is great here, as it evenly distributes garlic flavor without having to worry about any mincing or the garlic burning in the oven. It's also important to chill the quinoa so that it adheres to the chicken. Rice flower keeps these nuggets gluten-free, but you can use whole-wheat or all-purpose instead.
Rosy Beet-and-Quinoa Salad
This earthy whole-grain salad holds up well, so it's a good make-ahead option; just bring it to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili
Quinoa is ideal in soups and stews because the grains don’t soak up too much liquid. Here it adds body and texture to a smoky vegetarian chili. Chipotle chiles are jalapeños that have been dried and smoked. Start with 1 minced chile in about a tablespoon of the surrounding adobo sauce, then add more according to your heat preference.
Quinoa Bowls with Avocado and Egg
This quick, satisfying breakfast is loaded with anti-inflammatory foods extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, tomatoes, quinoa, and omega-3 eggs. For even more anti-inflammatory benefit, serve with an orange or grapefruit.
Salmon and Quinoa Bowl
This quinoa bowl has everything that you’d want in a dinner grain bowl: plenty of colorful vegetables, dark leafy greens, and heart-healthy protein all tied together with a tangy dollop of yogurt. Here we call for red quinoa for its pretty color, but any type of quinoa or quinoa blend will taste great.
Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole
We traded white rice for whole-grain quinoa and kicked out any processed ingredients for a new take on this comfort classic. To add more flavor to quinoa, try toasting it. Serve with a simple green salad. You can freeze an extra pan of this whole-grain main for kid-friendly comfort or make it ahead of time for a busy weeknight.
Baby Kale, Quinoa, and Roasted Vegetable Salad
Indulgent holiday food can leave you craving the crunch and bite of fresh veggies—exactly what this salad delivers. Use up roasted starchy vegetables from your holiday dinner table for a filing, flavorful salad that's versatile enough for any meal.
Sausage, Shrimp, & Quinoa Skillet
This 20-minute quinoa skillet is a play on dirty rice, and it uses only five ingredients (not counting cooking oil). Precooked quinoa keeps it superfast, but you can cook quinoa from scratch and still have dinner ready in less than 45 minutes. Spicy chicken sausage is lean and adds lots of flavor; you can swap in a chicken or turkey andouille sausage if you prefer. To round out the meal, serve with roasted asparagus or green beans, or opt for a crunchy romaine salad tossed with a bright, tart vinaigrette.
Quinoa Bibimbop Bowls
Jalapeno seeds add heat to the spicy-sweet beef mixture; remove the seeds and membranes before mincing for sensitive palates. Haricots verts are the snap bean's slender French cousin and cook in a couple of minutes for an easy side or crisp-tender stir-in for many dishes. Raw radishes are fine, but pickled, sautéed, or roasted is divine. You'll wonder how you ever did without them.
Buffalo Quinoa Burgers
Make your own veggie burgers—they come together quickly and easily with the help of a food processor. You can form the patties ahead of time: Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to two days. They’ll end up holding their shape even better in the pan. If serving to kids or folks with sensitive palates, you can omit the hot sauce mixture and simply serve the patties on buns with the usual burger condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayo. Serve with veggies and ranch dressing for a fun and lighter alternative to fries.
Roasted Salmon with Kale-Quinoa Salad
The American Heart Association recommends eating salmon or other fatty fish twice a week to reap the cardiovascular benefits that the omega-3 fatty acids provide. Look for wild salmon, which has 5 to 10 times fewer contaminants and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) than farm-raised.
Beet, Blood Orange, Kumquat, and Quinoa Salad
This salad is simply stunning—a beautiful combination of colors, textures, and flavors. Avocado adds richness and creaminess, blood orange and kumquats offer up their bright citrusy goodness, and beets bring earthy sweetness to the mix. To ensure the beets don’t discolor the whole salad, opt for golden beets or Chioggia (candy cane) beets. To cook them quickly, wrap unpeeled beets in microwave-safe parchment paper, and microwave on HIGH for 5 to 8 minutes; when cool enough to handle, rub off peels. When kumquats aren’t in season, just toss in more orange sections.
Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili
Quinoa bulks up this meatless chili, adding its toasty-nutty flavor and contributing protein and fiber. Smoked paprika is key, adding unparalleled flavor and depth. If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotles, you can use regular fire-roasted tomatoes. Just taste to gauge the spice level, and add a little chipotle chile powder, ground red pepper, or hot sauce if you think the chili needs more heat. We like the soft, creamy texture of pinto beans here, but you can use any canned bean you like. Serve with toasted flatbread, or bake up a pan of cornbread for a classic accompaniment.
Lemon and Dill Quinoa Chicken Soup
Hot cooked quinoa infused with garlic and fresh thyme rounds out this Provençal-inspired dish (Bajane is a term for the midday meal). Chickpeas are a staple in Provence, where they are often stewed and served with pasta and vegetables. In this version, chickpeas, leeks, carrots, fennel, and spinach are served atop protein-rich quinoa for a vegetarian main that feels complete without the meat. Deglazing the pan with a splash of white wine picks up the caramelized vegetable bits for more flavor in the finished sauce. The alcohol will cook off before the sauce is done, but if you’d rather omit it, you can substitute vegetable broth or water.
Quinoa Salad with Artichokes and Parsley
If ever a side could shout “Spring is here!” this would be it. A generous heap of fresh lemon rind adds zip, fresh parsley adds color and freshness, and tender artichoke hearts make this a substantial side dish. We use frozen, thawed artichoke hearts here (fresh ones can require more time to prep, and canned may be higher in sodium and slightly too soft). Sweet onion is another springtime staple. We sauté the onion and fresh thyme just until tender before adding the quinoa. Serve with simply roasted fish, or pair with roast chicken and a side of glazed and roasted carrots.
Spicy Bean and Quinoa Salad with "Mole" Vinaigrette
The components of a classic mole sauce—sweet spices, chile heat, and dark chocolate—create a delicious vinaigrette for this whole-grain salad. Pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) work great with the Mexican-inspired flavors, but you can use any crunchy nut you like; we’d suggest sliced toasted almonds or roasted pistachios. There’s plenty of protein, plus a hefty serving size, to make this a main-dish salad, but you can also serve smaller portions as a side or starter salad. For a little extra richness, sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco or Cotija cheese, and for a bigger protein hit, top the salad with sliced grilled flank steak.
Quinoa with Dried Cherries and Pistachios
Think of quinoa as a blank canvas for flavors ranging from the simple (lemon and parsley) to the complex and exotic (warm spices; dried nuts and fruit). Here the protein-packed whole grain gets a Middle Eastern spin with tart dried cherries, chopped pistachios, and mint. Serve with braised lamb or spice-rubbed roasted chicken to complete the theme. Or, stir in shredded rotisserie chicken and another crunchy vegetable like cucumber or celery for a lunchtime salad. You can also make a larger batch of quinoa minus the stir-ins and refrigerate for a simple side or salad base during the week.
A whole-grain protein bowl is the perfect solution for when lunch needs to be quick—as well as tasty, filling, and healthy. Cook quinoa ahead of time (or buy precooked, available in pouches near the rice). To complete the lunch, serve with 1/2 cup steamed green beans as shown. Dairy-free option: Use 2 teaspoons toasted chopped walnuts instead of feta cheese.
Quinoa and Parsley Salad
After a recent trip to Israel, reader Pam Riesenberg was inspired to include more quinoa and fresh salads in her family's meals. "It's a very healthy cuisine, and quinoa figures into the Israeli diet a lot." Now she's spreading the word through cooking classes and sharing her recipe with us. While cucumber, tomato, and parsley are traditional, this gorgeous quinoa salad pops with color from dried apricots, green onions, and hulled pumpkin seeds. Bonus: It tastes just as good (if not better) the next day. You can substitute dried cranberries or golden raisins for the apricots, and any unsalted nut or seed for the hulled pumpkin seeds.
Curried Quinoa Salad with Cucumber-Mint Raita
Quick-cooking, whole-grain quinoa is great on its own, but just a few ingredients can make it wonderfully interesting and complex, perfect for a meatless lunch or light supper. Warm, fragrant Madras curry powder releases its flavor in the hot oil, which then toasts the quinoa before simmering. This is truly India in a bowl: curry, juicy mango, cilantro (also called coriander) leaves, and a cooling cucumber-yogurt sauce called raita. Currants are like smaller, slightly less sweet raisins; you can use either here. Add canned unsalted chickpeas for a little extra protein.
Black Bean-Quinoa Salad with Basil-Lemon Dressing
This zesty salad is full of fresh vegetables and protein- and fiber-packed tofu and beans, making this a vegetarian main salad everyone will love. The salad is also versatile: swap out the basil, lemon juice, and mustard for chopped cilantro, lime juice, and a little minced jalapeño. Use any vegetables you like in place of the tomato, onions, and carrot. Building the salad in stages allows for maximum flavor and texture: tofu sears separately until very crisp, the vinaigrette is tossed with the hot cooked quinoa so it can absorb, and fresh vegetables are added right at the end to retain their crunch.
Want to make something a little special for dinner? Try these gorgeous stuffed squashes: They’re hearty and satisfying, and just beautiful on the plate. The recipe calls for golden nugget squash, but that variety can be hard to find year-round; acorn squash makes a good substitute. For a dinner party, double the recipe, and get a head start: The day before, cook the squash, and fill with stuffing. Bring to room temperature the next day, and bake as directed. You may find these filling enough to be your entire dinner, but they’re also great with a spinach salad tossed with apple or pear slices.
Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Pistachios
Here’s a great make-ahead lunch that will get you through most of the week. Simply prepare the salad on Sunday night, and pack in four portable containers. Crunchy romaine will hold up well, and the quinoa will only get better over time, soaking up all the fruity flavors. Dried apricots and golden raisins—each with a bright, slightly tart flavor—work beautifully here, but you can swap in any dried fruit you like. (Dried cherries would be particularly good.) If you’d like to use fresh apricots, by all means do; but know that they won’t hold up as long if you’re making the salad ahead.
Cajun Crab and Quinoa Cakes
Quinoa works wonders in this fun twist on crab cakes. The grains are intentionally overcooked until soft and mushy, which makes them a great binder for the cakes. The quinoa also makes the dish more affordable by stretching a smaller amount of expensive lump crabmeat—only 8 ounces for 4 servings. When working with big flakes of premium crabmeat, be careful not to overmix, as doing so will break the crab apart. The cakes are delicate, so take care when flipping them; you might find that using two spatulas works best.
Quinoa with Leeks and Shiitake Mushrooms
A quick sauté tops hot cooked quinoa here for a vegetarian main that’s ready in minutes. Meaty shiitake mushrooms give the vegetable mixture a substantial feel, red bell pepper adds color and texture, and fresh leek adds a mild onion flavor that won’t overwhelm the other components in the dish. Add a little more heft with cooked, crumbled soy sausage links or seared tofu. For an Asian-inspired dish, swap the walnuts for cashews and drizzle with reduced-sodium soy sauce.
Tomato, Squash, and Red Pepper Gratin
Sometimes the best "steak" comes in the form of ripe, juicy beefsteak tomato slices, as in this easy gratin. Serve with a salad of fresh summer greens. This dish makes a perfect showcase for heart-of-the-summer fresh produce. For peak-quality veggies, scour your local farmers market. We prefer to use 2% milk in this dish instead of 1% or skim milk, both of which are more likely to break and curdle when heated in the oven. If you're not concerned about keeping the dish vegetarian, a little crumbled cooked bacon added to the mix would make a fantastic flavor booster.
Red Quinoa Salad
Red quinoa makes a beautiful main-dish salad, but you can use whichever color you’d like. We love the briny, salty flavor feta gives the Mediterranean-flavored salad, but crumbled goat cheese would work just as well. Letting the oil mixture stand for 20 minutes helps infuse it with shallot flavor and develop delicious nuances. It's wise to mix the dressing into the quinoa while it's still a little warm: Room temperature or cold grains and starches do not absorb liquid nearly as well. Use a flavorful, good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best results—simple recipes like this depend on using great ingredients.
Quinoa with Toasted Pine Nuts
The perfect side-dish companion to a variety of meat-based main dishes, including fish, chicken, and steak, this quinoa recipe is simple and delicious. Pine nuts from China are less expensive than those from Italy, although not as flavorful. Sunflower seed kernels are a budget-friendly alternative to pine nuts in just about every applicaiton, including pesto. Toasting the nuts draws out their essential oils and deepens their flavor. This dish can be made up to a day ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. Let the dish come to room temperature before serving so the flavors won't be muted. A hit of acid from a squeeze of fresh lemon or a dash of vinegar would be a welcome addition to this dish, brightening and intensifying flavors.
Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn, and Green Chiles
These tomatoes are stuffed full with super-healthy quinoa, sweet fresh corn, poblano chiles, and lots of shredded cheese. Fresh lime juice adds a burst of citrus freshness. It's a delicious side or meatless main. Poblano chiles are mildly spicy, and roasting brings out their natural fruity sweetness. Cumin adds earthy, warm notes and emphasizes the Southwestern influences of the dish. The dish uses liquid from the tomato pulp to infuse the quinoa with tomato flavor. When you broil the corn kernels, be sure to get a little char on them—the caramelization makes fresh corn even more delicious and complexly flavored.
Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad
Quinoa, shrimp, and chickpeas pack a triple punch of protein into this tasty dish. The heat level is extremely mild as it comes from just 1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce. If you prefer a truly spicy dish, you can use chipotle chile powder instead of regular chili powder. For an even more dazzling plate, use multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes. Serve with lime slices, if you like, for an extra spike of tartness. The marinated shrimp pick up gorgeous color on the grill. Don't let the flames engulf the shrimp, however, or the spices will scorch and turn bitter.
Quinoa for breakfast? Why not! The whole grain is given a kind of oatmeal treatment here, cooked with sweet ingredients and topped with fresh fruit and coconut flakes. We use strawberries and bananas here, but most of your favorite berries would work well here. A touch of salt adds a mild savory note and also intensifies the sweetness of the small amount of added suagr in the dish. Like most whole grains, quinoa is surprisingly filling, but if you need more for breakfast, serve with an egg on the side.
Quick Quinoa Meatballs
This recipe comes from Jessica Goldman Foung, whose low-sodium diet requires the use of a creative variety of spices to boost flavor. If your diet allows, seasoning the recipe with 1/2 teaspoon salt adds just 40mg sodium per meatball—it works wonders for the taste of the dish. We like ground pork in this application, as opposed to a leaner meat like turkey, because it adds richer flavor while the amount of fat remains very low per serving. If you prefer to use fresh herbs—and they would work just fine here—use a whole teaspoon of each.
Nutty Almond-Sesame Red Quinoa
Toasted sliced almonds and dark toasted sesame oil give this simple quinoa pilaf lots of nutty flavor. We call for red quinoa, but you can use standard golden quinoa or try a tricolor blend for a different look. Though the recipe doesn’t specify this, it’s always a good idea to rinse and drain quinoa before cooking to minimize bitterness. This versatile side dish goes with pretty much anything, from sautéed fish and roasted poultry to grilled beef and pan-seared pork. Turn any leftovers into a main-dish salad by stirring in shredded rotisserie or leftover chicken.
Kale, Quinoa, and Cherry Salad
Sweet, juicy cherries absolutely burst with goodness in this main-dish salad. If it’s not cherry season, or if you don’t have cherries on hand, you can swap in halved red grapes or 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries or dried cranberries. To ease prep, we call for precooked quinoa and brown rice blend, but don’t sweat it if you can’t find this product. You can use 12 ounces of cooked quinoa (roughly 2 cups cooked). And if you’re not a fan of goat cheese, try topping the salad with crumbled feta or queso fresco instead.
Quinoa-Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes with Romesco
When big, fat, meaty heirloom tomatoes are abundant, turn them into a delicious vegetarian main dish by stuffing them with cooked quinoa tossed with chickpeas, herbs, and fresh ginger. The icing on the cake? It’s that sauce on the plate—romesco, a savory, insanely delicious sauce made from roasted bell peppers (we call for bottled to ease prep), almonds, olive oil, and garlic. The recipe serves four and doubles easily; it’s a real conversation-starter that you just might need to bring to your next potluck gathering. You can go with a combination of colorful tomatoes, or stick to a dramatic monochrome.
Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach
A whole head of roasted garlic gives this quinoa side a rich, savory flavor that makes it truly memorable. While roasting your own garlic is certainly not difficult, it does require some time (the garlic cooks for an hour, in which time it turns soft and its flavor mellows). If you don’t have that time to invest, you can look for roasted garlic on the olive bar at your local gourmet market; it likely won’t have as rich a flavor as what you’d roast yourself, but it will come close. This side goes with pretty much any main dish—or you can have a double portion and enjoy it as a main.
Quinoa Panzanella with Wild Salmon
Perfect for a light dinner or make-ahead lunch, this quinoa salad is a great example of how to build a more plant-based meal. A small amount of wild salmon stretches over four portions, serving more as a rich accent than a center-of-the-plate protein. Nutty quinoa binds all the ingredients together; crunchy cucumbers and red onion provide great texture, while juicy multicolored cherry tomatoes offer sweet-tangy notes. Capers bring their distinctive salty, briny flavor to the mix—you can sub finely chopped olives if you don’t have them on hand.
Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad
This quinoa salad recipe makes a hefty 10 cups and holds up beautifully for a day or two—making it the perfect dish for a block party, picnic, or family reunion. You’ll love the fresh flavor from lemon and mint, plus the addictive crunch of bell pepper and cucumber. We call for cooking the quinoa in chicken broth to add more flavor and depth, but you can use vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian.
Traditional tabbouleh is made with bulgur, or cracked wheat. This quinoa riff is a great gluten-free option that still maintains the flavors of the original reference point. There’s still the chopped tomato and cucumber, the fresh zip of lemon juice, and the abundant fresh herbs. This salad holds up well, so it’s a good option for a picnic or potluck side. To turn it into a main dish, stir in shredded rotisserie or leftover chicken—or to keep with more classic Middle Eastern flavors, add or serve with grilled lamb.
Chocolate Quinoa Covered Strawberries
For two people, this recipe is a bit high on saturated fat (almost all of it coming from the dark chocolate) for our everyday nutritional guidelines. But it’s Valentine’s Day, so splurge a little if you feel like it. If this is for an everyday treat, cut it to 4 servings, and you get the nutritional thumbs up.
Chocolate-Caramel Bark with Quinoa
This season, there's no need to stress or spend hours in the kitchen. Serve this simple sweet treat at your next party or wrap it up beautifully for your friends. The first ingredient in this dark chocolate bark (psst, it’s quinoa) gives this treat loads of crunch. It’s a whole grain, which definitely makes this sweet even sweeter.