I'll Admit It, I Thought Quinoa Was "Basic" Until I Tried These Recipes

Updated 07/10/19

 Half Baked Harvest

If you're a regular MyDomaine reader, you've no doubt noticed that I have a penchant for stocking up on "boring" pantry staples. Think, chickpeas, lentils, and pasta. However, until recently, there was one pantry fallback that I'd written off as basic: quinoa. The thing is, the utilitarian grain can be easily transformed when you add just a few herbs, spices, sauces, and other culinary accouterments to it.

After putting dozens of recipes to the test, I've come to realize that the only thing that's basic about quinoa is how it's cooked (i.e., boiled in a pot of water for 10 minutes). Ahead, I'm sharing the best quinoa recipes that prove the go-to grain is far from bland, boring, and, yes, "basic." From a Southwest-inspired chopped salad to spicy enchiladas, these are without a doubt the best quinoa recipes that showcase the pantry fallback at its finest.

Southwest Mango, Kale, and Quinoa Chopped Salad

Southwest Mango, Kale, and Quinoa Chopped Salad
 Half Baked Harvest

The Hero Ingredient: The sunflower seed-based vinaigrette, which is the essence of this dish, is made using lots of fresh lime and a touch of honey. When tossed with all the other ingredients, this nutty, tangy, sweet dressing makes this Southwest mango, kale, and quinoa chopped salad crazy-delicious.

The Pro Tip: "This is perfect for making on a Sunday or Monday night and then eating the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day," offers recipe creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "The salad stores really well in the fridge and the flavor develops more over time, so you could even just pack it for lunch throughout the week."

Golden Coconut Broth Bowls With Crispy Tofu

Golden Coconut Broth Bowls With Crispy Tofu
 The First Mess

The Hero Ingredient: Made with creamy coconut milk, hot chilis, ground turmeric, and aromatic herbs, the broth is the standout ingredient in these golden coconut broth bowls. Topped with crispy tofu and a generous scoop of quinoa, it's a surprisingly hearty meal.

The Pro Tip: Feel free to make this recipe your own. "If you're the kind of person that doubles the specified amount of garlic in every recipe, that would work out great here, just sayin'," notes recipe creator Laura of The First Mess.

Quinoa-and-Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa and Turkey Stuffed Peppers
 The Modern Proper

The Hero Ingredient: Store-bought taco seasoning makes whipping up these flavorful quinoa-and-turkey stuffed peppers incredibly quick and easy. Case in point: You only need to set aside 45 minutes to make this meal from start to finish.

The Pro Tip: No need to blanch the peppers before stuffing them. "You want them to hold their shape in the oven as they bake, so blanching the peppers before stuffing them with the seasoned ground turkey would soften them, which is the opposite of what you want," explains recipe creator Natalie of The Modern Proper.

Smoky Quinoa Black Bean Falafel

Smoky Quina Black Bean Falafel
 Minimalist Baker

The Hero Ingredient: Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce lend a smoky flavor to these quinoa black bean fritters. Serve over a generous portion of leafy greens and drizzle with tahini sauce for a satisfying, health-conscious meal.

The Pro Tip: "Baking the beans is key, as it dries them out and makes the falafel crispy instead of mushy," divulges recipe creator Dana of Minimalist Baker.

Spicy Poblano, Black Bean, and Quinoa Enchiladas

Spicy Poblano, Black Bean, and Quinoa Enchiladas
 Half Baked Harvest

The Hero Ingredient: These spicy poblano, black bean, and quinoa enchiladas are made almost entirely using staple pantry ingredients. Think onions, garlic, spices, black beans, and, of course, quinoa, making them super easy to whip up on a whim.

The Pro Tip: Don't skip the poblano peppers, even if you have to make the trek to the grocery store to get them. "The poblanos are what make these enchiladas so good," says recipe creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "They're smoky, with just a little heat (nothing too spicy at all), and loaded with such delicious flavor."

Loaded Greek Quinoa Salad

Loaded Greek Quinoa Salad
 Half Baked Harvest

The Hero Ingredient: Brimming with marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and hummus this loaded Greek quinoa salad certainly lives up to its name. And if you're wondering where the kalamata olives are, they're in the dressing. Yum.

The Pro Tip: "I personally eat this with fresh pita or naan for scooping, but again, I love me some carbs," says recipe creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "You can also simply eat it with a fork... but really why would you do that when you could use pita?"

Curried Cauliflower Quinoa Salad

Curried Cauliflower Quinoa Salad
 Stuck in the Kitchen

The Hero Ingredient: Perhaps not surprisingly, the curried cauliflower is the hero ingredient in this quinoa salad. After being seasoned with salt and pepper, the florets are caramelized to utter perfection with cumin seeds and drizzled with a bit of honey and oil.

The Pro Tip: "This salad is truly yummy just as it is, but if you want another protein with it, feel free to add shredded chicken, and oddly enough, it is also amazing with a poached or scrambled egg," suggests recipe creator Sarah of Stuck in the Kitchen.

Stuffed Eggplant With Sunflower Romesco

Stuffed Eggplant With Sunflower Romesco
 The First Mess

The Hero Ingredient: A rustic romesco sauce made with roasted red peppers and sunflower seeds is the ideal condiment to top off these quinoa-stuffed eggplants. Romesco is traditionally made with almonds, but as this recipe demonstrates, you can swap in whichever nuts you have on hand.

The Pro Tip: "Romesco is good in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for five to seven days," notes Laura of The First Mess. "I dare you to even try making it last that long though. I love it with grilled/roasted vegetables, tossed with pasta, chickpeas, and herbs, and swooped up with crusty bread."

Smoky Squash Chili With Quinoa, Pinto, and Black Beans

Smoky Squash Chili With Quinoa, Pinto, and Black Beans
 The First Mess

The Hero Ingredient: A combination of quinoa, pinto, and black beans make this smoky, vegan-friendly chili satisfying, hearty, and delicious. As recipe creator Laura of The First Mess notes, you can swap squash for sweet potatoes, depending on seasonal availability.

The Pro Tip: "If you’re opening a can of chipotles to get the adobo sauce and you enjoy some extra spice, chop one of the actual chipotles up and add them to the chili along with the adobo sauce," recommends Laura of The First Mess.

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