8 Recipes Revitalizing Quinoa Dishes With Global Flavors

WebMD calls quinoa one of the best whole grains you can eat, with high protein and iron content as well as zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. By now, though, we all know by now that quinoa is healthy and that we should be eating it. We’ve risen to the occasion and we’ve been eating a lot of quinoa. The Whole Grains Council says we imported 22.3 million pounds of quinoa back in 2010, a number that has no doubt grown since. All the way back in 2010 (seems so long ago in the food world, now), chefs named quinoa the hottest trend in side dishes in the National Restaurant Association survey on the matter. Then, it most certainly was; the United Nations dubbed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. We’ve become a quinoa crazed nation, and that’s a good thing! We’re full of iron and vitamin E and getting vegetarian sources of protein in our grains.

With all this quinoa eating, we’re afraid you may be recycling the same old tired quinoa recipes over and over again, getting bored with this magical grain. Instead of making one more “old faithful” this week, try putting an international flair on your ancient grain and make one of these 8 recipes.

Quinoa Salad

Source: iStock

1. Thai Quinoa Salad With Fresh Herbs and Lime Vinaigrette

The best thing about this quinoa dish from Once Upon a Chef has to be that you can make it in the time it takes you to say its name. This dish really benefits from freshly squeezed lime juice as the star of the vinaigrette, so don’t try to cheat with the bottled stuff here.



  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed or pre-washed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint or basil


  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from 3 to 4 limes
  • 2½ teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions: Cook quinoa according to package instructions with the salt. Transfer to a bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.

In the meantime, make the dressing by combining the lime juice, fish sauce, vegetable oil, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

Once the quinoa is cool, add the red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, scallions, fresh herbs, and dressing. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, sugar, and lime juice to taste.

Quinoa with pumpkin, squash

Source: iStock

2. Quinoa With Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew

Quinoa has a comforting side, and this is it. This hearty recipe from Bon Appétit via Epicurious is full of warm spices and perfect for a cold winter day. The recipe calls for butternut squash, but would be great with any dense orange squash like acorn or kabocha.



  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped peeled carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint, divided


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup water
  • One 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups 1-inch cubes peeled butternut squash
  • 2 cups ¾-inch cubes peeled carrots

Directions: Start making the stew by heating oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in all spices from paprika through saffron. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add squash and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While the stew is simmering, make the quinoa. Rinse grains thoroughly. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and turmeric; sauté 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir half of cilantro and half of mint into the stew. Spoon quinoa onto platter, forming well in center. Spoon stew into well. Sprinkle remaining herbs over.

Quinoa Cakes, Veggie Burgers, Vegetarian

Source: iStock

3. Quinoa Cakes With Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella

Rather than frying up polenta, give quinoa a new home as a crispy, golden cake. This Italian-style quinoa dish from Gourmet via Epicurious uses the binding power of an egg to form quinoa patties for pan-frying; if you’ve made a quinoa-based burger before, you’re halfway there. The lightened caponata-style eggplant ragu on top is deepened by the smokiness of the cheese, but you could substitute normal, unsmoked mozzarella, too.


Quinoa Cakes

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided


  • 1½ pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup drained bottled roasted red peppers, rinsed and chopped
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ pound smoked mozzarella, diced

Directions: To make the quinoa cakes, bring water and ½ teaspoon of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Rinse the quinoa well and stir into boiling water. Return to a boil and Simmer until water is totally absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measure. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking and chilling, make the ragu. Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of eggplant to extract liquid, then pat dry.

Cook eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, roasted peppers, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender and mixture is thick, about 10 minutes.

When the quinoa has chilled, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Plate the quinoa cakes. Stir parsley and half the cheese into the ragu and stir. Spoon over quinoa cakes, and then sprinkle remaining cheese over the dishes.

Rinsing Quinoa

Source: iStock

4. Quinoa “Fried Rice”

If you have extra quinoa at the end of a meal, use it here. This is a dish that works amazingly well with leftover quinoa because it needs to chill a little in the fridge to keep the grains separate when reheating, one of the defining characteristics of fried rice. This recipe from Cooking For Keeps is a great way to repurpose any leftovers, really; though the recipe lists standard ingredients like peas, you can throw any mish-mash of vegetables that need a new home into the pan.


  • 1 cup dried quinoa or 2½ to 3 cups leftover cooked quinoa
  • 1½ cups water or low-sodium vegetable stock
  • ¼ small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped and divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame oil

Directions: Rinse quinoa a few times in cold water. Bring quinoa and water or chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and let set for five minutes or so. Fluff with a fork. Cool and store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled.

Mix teriyaki, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about 2 minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about 2 minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble. Throw in peas, then toss everything together until the peas are warmed through. Add remaining scallion and serve.

Quinoa Salad, vegetables

Source: iStock

5. Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad

As a 2006 recipe, this salad starred quinoa before it was cool. This recipe from Cooking Light via My Recipes features a heartier way to eat a Greek salad in the middle of winter when all the heads of lettuce are sad, wilty, and out of season, and relies on radicchio for some leafy crunch. If you can’t find radicchio, substitute red cabbage.


  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radicchio
  • ½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped English cucumber
  • ⅓ cup (about 1½ ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots

Directions: Rinse quinoa. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Uncover; fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

Combine olive oil, mint, zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa, tomatoes, and the remaining ingredients; toss well.

Soup, broth, carrots

Source: iStock

6. Peruvian Quinoa Soup

Though it looks a little less sexy than the other recipes listed, this soup is special because it’s a traditional dish from the homeland of quinoa brought back by Bites Out of Life blogger Ishita Singh from a trip to Machu Picchu. It’s light, warm, and herbaceous with the use of oregano and lemon verbena, but still has a little heft to it between the quinoa and potatoes. If you’re looking for a miracle soup, this may be it — and if you’re coming back from a fight with the flu, this could be the soup that puts you back on your feet. Since most supermarkets don’t carry fresh lemon verbena, use cilantro as a good-enough substitute. It’s a completely different flavor, but still works well here.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ of a large onion, diced
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups diced yellow potatoes
  • 1½ cups diced butternut squash
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Directions: In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, and celery and saute on medium heat until the onions begin to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the quinoa and toast, stirring often, until the seeds brown slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add the stock, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, bay leaves, potatoes, and butternut squash. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for 20 to 25 minutes, until the vegetables are fork-tender. Taste and adjust seasonings, then stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.

Quinoa Salad, tomatos, beans

Source: iStock

7. One Pan Mexican Quinoa

For a little fiesta style, look no more. This recipe from Damn Delicious takes 30 minutes from start to finish and, best of all, it’s cooked in one pan. It has 15 grams of protein, almost 14 grams of fiber, and it’s cooked in one pan! For those who are more into meals they can pick up, this would make a great burrito filling. (Did we mention it’s cooked in one pan?)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.

Serve immediately.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

8. Quinoa Tabbouleh

We’re going to assume more of you have quinoa in your cabinet than bulgur, so we’re presenting this classic Middle Eastern grain salad made with the little South American seed instead of bulgur. Even if quinoa isn’t sitting on a shelf in your kitchen, quinoa can be much easier to find at any given grocery store than good quality bulgur, making this Bon Appétit recipe a snap to pull together without roaming the aisles.


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large English cucumber, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ⅔ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions: Bring quinoa, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1¼ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing over.

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