15 Recipes That Put Quinoa In The Limelight

Packed full of nutritional value, quinoa is a carby grain that tastes downright delicious. Before you reach for rice or potatoes, you might want to consider swapping these out from time to time and adding quinoa into your diet, too. Easy to cook, these grains have been around for a long time. That doesn't mean to say that they don't fit right in with modern dishes from deconstructed bowl recipes to classic veggie delights, and even plates inspired by Asian cooking. 

Enjoy quinoa served hot or cold, with savory sides and entrées, plus sweet treats, too. It pairs well with cheese, spices, and citrusy dressings, as well as Mediterranean salad veggies. Don't just add a spoonful on the side of your plate as an afterthought, though. It deserves more attention.

Rather than seeing this super grain as an add-on, it's time to check out some recipes that put quinoa in the limelight. 

1. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Crunchy, flavorful, and fresh tasting, this quinoa salad rocks with a vinaigrette dressing adding a citrusy beat. Red quinoa looks popping with cucumbers, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, and chickpeas, plus red onion. Fresh parsley and basil lift the ingredients, giving the sweetness of the tomatoes and pepper an herby accent. Use grape tomatoes, as they don't easily get mushed up. 

There aren't any hard rules with this, so feel free to add other Mediterranean-style ingredients. Kalamata olives look and taste amazing, as does fresh mint, whether you're making a light lunch or a side.

Recipe: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

2. Chocolate Quinoa Bites

The success of some recipes is all about the quality of the ingredients. And you only need four, plus salt, to make these scrummy, gourmet choccy treats. Melt anti-oxidizing dark chocolate using the bain-marie method. Mix in quinoa puffs, red goji berries, and crushed walnuts. 

The quinoa adds crunch, as do the nuts, which you can chop up on a board so the pieces aren't too big. Swap these out for pecans or cashews if you prefer. Make sure you've got enough freezer space to chill these magnificent bites to set them.

Recipe: Chocolate Quinoa Bites

3. Mango Quinoa Salad

If you're looking for a lip-smacking dish that marries fruit and veg, as well as carbs and fiber, then this mango quinoa salad is a must-try. The sweet, tartness of the velvety soft mango is a wonderful contrast with the nutty, chewy texture of the quinoa. 

Pump up the flavor by cooking the quinoa in chicken stock rather than water. It'll add a depth of savory notes to the black beans, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and red onion. This recipe is a keeper, but the salad isn't, so prep just enough for one sitting. 

Recipe: Mango Quinoa Salad

4. Quinoa Zucchini Salad

While this is a salad recipe, it's a hot one, and worth getting a pan or two on the stove for. As you are sautéing zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and shallots keep an eye on your quinoa as it bubbles away. You want it to be cooked with a little bite and not overly soft. 

Lemon juice and spinach go into the pan near the end. And don't forget to crumble goat cheese into the mix. It adds a sublime sharp and salty finish that somehow brings all the other ingredients together. 

Recipe: Quinoa Zucchini Salad

5. Healthy Quinoa Spanish Rice

You're not cutting the carbs in this classic Spanish rice dish by using quinoa. However, the grains are nutrient-rich and super tasty. If you've never cooked them before, rinse them first, as a mild toxin on the outside of the seeds creates a bitter taste.

Made with salsa, spices, and a saucepan of veggies, this dish is simple to make. Throw in a few black beans and create a burrito filling. Or serve as part of a Buddha or burrito bowl along with other ingredients such as guac or salsa verde. 

Recipe: Healthy Quinoa Spanish Rice

6. 15-Minute Mexican Quinoa Salad

Black beans, avocado, corn, and cilantro in a lime zest and garlic dressing give this superb salad its signature flavors, which are inspired by Mexican cuisine. And quinoa adds a filling, earthy taste and soft, yet chewy texture. The ingredients come together in a matter of minutes. 

You'll also need grape tomatoes and red onion to add a lovely pop of color and taste. If you're serving in the middle of the table, garnish with lime slices, avocado, and cilantro. Eat all you make as it won't keep, even in the fridge. 

Recipe: 15-Minute Mexican Quinoa Salad

7. Chicken And Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls

The idea of a burrito bowl is that it looks amazing and tastes like it's a balanced meal of protein, carbs, and fiber. This recipe has it all, with fajita-seasoned roasted chicken breast, sweet potatoes, onions, fluffy quinoa, and an outrageously delicious tahini-lime dressing. 

Combine spoonfuls of corn and kidney beans, then fan out some fresh avocado. Add the sweet potatoes, onions, and quinoa. Tuck in the lettuce first before topping with the rest of the ingredients. That way you get the taste in every bite. 

Recipe: Chicken And Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls

8. Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls

How good do these tofu grain bowls sound? Certainly good enough to eat. And it's the quinoa and brown rice base that supports the rest of the ingredients. A complex carbohydrate, quinoa pairs perfectly with veggies. For this salad, you'll need sliced avocado, slivered red cabbage, shredded carrot, and cherry tomatoes. 

Ginger and maple syrup are used to make a marinade for the tofu. They are also combined with tahini and lemon juice to make a stonkingly good dressing. To prep, keep the ingredients separate until ready to serve. 

Recipe: Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls

9. Easy Feta-Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed tomatoes baked in the oven are something of a retro dish. What makes this version reach further back in time for inspiration is the ancient quinoa grain filling. The juiciness of the tomatoes, carby quinoa fluffiness, and salty, creamy feta cheesiness are a terrific trio of attributes. 

While you can serve them with another dish, they are delicious in their own right for a light lunch. You can always adapt this recipe and make cute cherry tomato versions, too. They are great on a buffet table or served as a side. 

Recipe: Easy Feta-Stuffed Tomatoes

10. Hasselback Zucchini

You've probably heard of hasselback potatoes, but what about zucchini? You don't need to lament the loss of carbs with this recipe, as the main ingredient is quinoa. Stuff it between the slices of the vegetable to give it its signature look.

The mild nuttiness of quinoa complements so many other ingredients, meaning you can incorporate it with full-flavor dishes. For this one, add it to a chunky mix of Kalamata olives, capers, and sundried tomatoes, plus lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. To give the mixture a cheesy flavor, mix in nutritional yeast. 

Recipe: Hasselback Zucchini

11. Copycat Panera Bread Mediterranean Bowls

Bowl recipes work when they give you crunchy, creamy, and fresh-tasting ingredients. This copycat Panera Bread version doesn't disappoint. Build the layers in the right order so that they look attractive and work taste-wise.

Start with arugula before adding the quinoa and brown rice. Sprinkle halved grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and diced cucumbers on top. Next, add slices of cooked chicken breast followed by crumbles of feta cheese, a good squirt of lemon juice, and a generous drizzle of tahini dressing. Finish with spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and hummus. 

Recipe: Copycat Panera Bread Mediterranean Bowls

12. Copycat Panera Bread Baja Bowls

Lemon and pepper marinated chicken is given a flavor boost in this Baja bowl recipe with red quinoa and brown rice. To make this dish easier to pull together, use readymade marinade and salsa verde. Mix drained canned black beans and corn beforehand so you're ready to go when you put your bowls together. The same goes for the grape tomatoes and feta crumbles.

Only cut the avocado when you're ready to make up a bowl. Don't miss out on adding a dollop of unsweetened Greek yogurt on top. 

Recipe: Copycat Panera Bread Baja Bowls

13. Avocado Tomato Salad

Rather than serving this salad as a side, make it the highlight. A delicious way to make it more filling for a lunchtime entrée and give it some super-grain goodness is to mix in quinoa. If you cook this beforehand, then the whole recipe will take you literally five minutes to make.

Simple as it might be, make sure that the avocado you use is perfectly ripe. It's not great to eat if it's hard or brown and mushy. Only add the balsamic vinegar when you've added cherry tomatoes, red onion, and corn.

Recipe: Avocado Tomato Salad

14. 20-Minute Egg Roll In A Bowl

Soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chili paste give ground pork flavor in this egg-roll filling dish. While it's low in carbs, if you want a heartier dish, then try this bowl over a serving of fluffy quinoa. The taste of the grain complements the Asian flavors tremendously, too.

Cooking garlic and ginger in sesame oil sets the culinary notes. And it's these moreish ingredients that coat the grain and make every mouthful divine. Finish with cilantro and sesame seeds, and enjoy an incredibly tasty 20-minute meal.

Recipe: 20-Minute Egg Roll In A Bowl

15. 15-Minute Cashew Chicken

What's so tempting about Asian dishes, aside from the intensely flavorful mix of ingredients, is that many of them are quick to make. Got 15 minutes free to make your dinner? Time to make cashew chicken. To create a more robust serving, look no further than boiling some quinoa, which shouldn't extend the cooking time at all. 

If you want to make this a weeknight staple, try using different meat, changing the hoisin sauce to teriyaki perhaps, and using a different nut than cashews. You can keep the quinoa the same, though.

Recipe: 15-Minute Cashew Chicken