My Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables is a delicious and colorful gluten-free dish featuring quinoa, a nutritional powerhouse. I toss quinoa with sweet, caramelized roasted vegetables and a light balsamic vinaigrette. It's a simple and elegant vegetarian entrée or side dish or can even be topped with grilled chicken or fish, if desired.
One of the first posts that I ever put up on The Foodie Physician blog was an “Ingredient 911” post about quinoa. I was a culinary student at the time and quinoa was a hot new ingredient that was all the rage in the culinary world.
I was so fascinated with quinoa that I even used it in my recipe just a few months earlier when I competed at the National Beef Cook-Off in Sonoma, California. My dish was “Pomegranate Steak with Quinoa.”
I distinctly recall the interviewers at the cook-off asking me more questions about the quinoa than the beef because they had never heard of it. Quinoa has certainly come a long way since then!
Quinoa is Versatile
As a doctor and a chef, quinoa is one of my favorite ingredients to work because it not only has a stellar nutritional profile, it also has amazing culinary versatility. You can use quinoa in a wide variety of dishes, both savory and sweet.
Some of my favorites are my Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers, Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Strawberries and Goat Cheese and Quinoa Fried "Rice" with Tuna.
Quinoa is the perfect ingredient to incorporate into your diet if you’re looking to make smarter food choices and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Quinoa Is a Superfood
Although quinoa is technically a seed, it is classified as a whole grain. To learn more about the nutritional benefits of whole grains, read my post Everything You Need to Know About Whole Grains.
One cup of cooked quinoa provides about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Quinoa is a superfood for many reasons:
- It's packed with essential vitamins and minerals including folate, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
- It's high in fiber. Fiber helps keep you feeling full and is important for digestive health. It also has numerous other health benefits including lowering cholesterol levels and helping to stabilize blood sugar.
- It contains phytonutrients (plant-based compounds) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Quinoa is also gluten-free and easy to digest.
- It's a good source of protein and is one of the few vegetarian foods that’s a complete protein. That means it contains all of the essential amino acids. This makes quinoa an excellent option for anyone following a plant-based diet.
- It contains small amounts of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid.
Quinoa has a wide range of colors but only three main varieties are cultivated- white, red, and black. I often buy tricolor quinoa, which is a mixture of the three. It adds a lot of beautiful color to my dishes. When it's cooked, quinoa has a nice nutty flavor and fluffy texture with a slight crunch.
Quinoa is Easy to Make
Do you ever feel rushed to get a nutritious meal on the table in the evening? The good news is that quinoa is also really easy to prepare. It only takes 15 minutes to cook! You can even cook it in a rice cooker if you have one. One of my tips is that I like to cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable stock because it infuses it with great flavor.
If you haven’t cooked with quinoa a lot, a good place to start would be to substitute it into any recipe that calls for rice or couscous.
Here are some ideas for how to use quinoa in recipes:
- Use it in pilafs or salads
- Add it to soups and stews or chili
- Use it in homemade veggie burgers
- Use it as a filling to stuff vegetables like bell peppers or acorn squash
- Enjoy it for breakfast in place of oatmeal
- Use it in a dessert like rice pudding
Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables
One of my favorite ways to prepare quinoa is my Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables. Roasting vegetables at a high temperature caramelizes their sugars and brings out their natural sweetness. As the vegetables roast, they brown on the outside, become buttery soft on the inside and their flavors intensify.
Whenever I’m trying to get more veggies into my diet, I make several large trays of my Perfect Oven-Roasted Vegetables and store them in the fridge to snack on during the week.
How to make Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables
For my Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables, I roast some of my favorite vegetables like colorful carrots, zucchini, red onion, and bell peppers along with whole cloves of garlic until they become soft and sweet.
Then I toss them with quinoa that I've cooked in vegetable stock. I love the extra color that you get from this mix of white, red, and black quinoa.
For a final pop of flavor, I tossed everything with a simple dressing made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard.
Bright, boldly flavored, and beautiful to look at plus it's super nutritious to boot! This dish makes an excellent vegetarian entrée or side dish or can even be topped with grilled chicken or fish, if desired.
Recipe FAQs and Chef's Tips
The seeds of the quinoa plant have a bitter coating from compounds called saponins. The best way to remove it is to rinse or soak the quinoa prior to cooking. However, most of the commercially sold quinoa in the U.S. is pre-rinsed to remove this bitterness.
Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavor. It takes on different flavors depending on how it's cooked and what it’s mixed with. I like to cook my quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock rather than water to infuse it with flavor. You can also add additional seasonings to quinoa as it's cooking such as garlic or dried spices. I also like to toss cooked quinoa with dressings and sauces while it's still warm to absorb maximum flavor.
Yes, quinoa is gluten free and is easy to digest. It's a nutritionally dense whole grain that's high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants and is a good option for those following a gluten-free diet.
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Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables
- 1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 bell peppers (yellow or red), sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 6-8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Place the onion, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, and garlic on a large roasting pan. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the thyme on top and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven until vegetables are softened and caramelized, 30-35 minutes. If using two baking sheets, rotate the pans halfway through.
- While vegetables are roasting, make the quinoa. Place the quinoa and vegetable (or chicken) stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until cooked, 12-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat and transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl.
- Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetables and toss to combine. Serve warm or cold.