April 17, 2013

Spanish Quinoa

Today I share with you an invitingly savory recipe for serving up quinoa. Nutty, high-protein, whole-food quinoa seeds infuse with southwestern spices and rich, simmering tomatoes. Quinoa skeptics: don't pass this by. The flavors are IN the quinoa. It makes so much sense.

Barely saucier than Spanish rice, and more flavorful, you can easily make this a main dish with a simple salad on the side. My favorite part? With tender peas, sliced Manzanilla olives, and leafy cilantro, you get to eat three beautiful shades of green at once. Enjoy!

Spanish Quinoa
Serves 6

1.5 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1.5 cups Pomi brand chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
10-15 Manzanilla or black olives, sliced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. fine-grained sea salt
handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Set aside peas in a bowl at room temperature, to partially defrost.

In a medium pot over medium heat, saute onion in a swirl of olive oil until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute one minute more.

Add salt and spices and stir to coat, then add quinoa, and stir again to coat. Fry briefly.

Add tomatoes and 1 + 3/4 cups water. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed (Note: stir often when the liquid becomes low to prevent sticking. You may add small amounts of water in the final few minutes to plump up the quinoa, but cook it off; the quinoa should not be too saucy.)

Remove quinoa from heat, and add peas and olives. Serve warm with a generous scattering of cilantro leaves.


  1. I am a quinoa newbie...the one time I tried it, it tasted like dirt. :/ I'm determined to like it, though. What type did you use for this recipe? I see it in different colors in the store and am not sure what to get. Thanks!

    1. Cassie, I used regular white quinoa, which I think has the mildest flavor. One trick to make sure quinoa turns out tasty is to rinse it really, really well. It's naturally coated in compounds called saponins, which make it pretty bitter if it's not well-rinsed. I usually swish it around in a pot in three changes of water before cooking.

      Another tasty way of preparing quinoa if you're still getting accustomed to the flavor is with melted cheddar and diced broccoli, or with butter and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!