Quinoa Loaded with Herbs & Veggies

by Julie Kalivretenos on May 11, 2011

Quinoa Loaded with Herbs & Veggies

vegan, gluten-free, raw adaptable, makes 2 servings or 1 big bowl if you're hungry

I’ve been absolutely addicted to this happy bowl of explosive flavor bliss. It has been the perfect lunch and body fuel after my morning workouts, so I wanted to share it with you. Especially if you might think veggies and quinoa equates to boring and more boring.

Contrary to popular belief, quinoa is not actually a grain, but the seed of a plant, Chenopodim, which is related to spinach and swiss chard.  The many nutritional aspects make it so excellent for replenishing the body after a strenuous workout.  Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source (meat eaters take note). It’s very high in iron, manganese, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, various antioxidants, vitamin E, and the omega fatty acids our brains need. Really, quinoa is one of those things that has practically a perfect nutritional profile.

Take all this power, add raw veggies and herbs, and you have something spectacular! The best thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t even have to be a “recipe”. You use whatever favorite veggies and herbs you have on hand. The key to the yummiest outcome is building flavor from the beginning on through the final toss of the dish. Nothing does a better job of that than adding aromatics like garlic and shallots, and then plenty of fresh herbs to finish. Dried ones work well too. I really love the hearty Italian flavor that oregano adds here (just make sure the dried herbs haven’t been in the pantry for 5 years).

Most all ingredients in this dish are raw, except for the quinoa.  I use packaged ready-sprouted quinoa, but opt to heat it through because the flavor and digestibility works better for me. Using a low sodium, organic, and home made vegetable broth adds a great flavor layer.  You can certainly choose to soak and sprout quinoa on your own for a raw application, just be sure to plenty season it.

Prepare the quinoa:

1/2 cup sprouted quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp minced fresh shallot
1/2 tsp sea salt
pinch crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat to lowest setting, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Prepare veggies:

Thinly slice and layer into a large bowl:

1/2 cup baby bell peppers in assorted colors
1/2 cup shiitake mushroom caps
1/2 cup fennel bulb
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes

When quinoa is ready, tumble over the top of the layered veggies. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Then add:

1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds

Toss thoroughly and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

<3, JMK

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