Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quinoa with Chickpeas & Sundried Tomatoes

I know, I know....I've been out of the kitchen for a while.  With the growing heat in Minnesota and my aversion to food after a training run, it's been challenging for me to find motivation to cook!  But tonight the stars aligned and I decided it was time.  Actually, it just so happened that I always have the ingredients for this great dinner dish in my pantry, so I could be both lazy and motivated at the same time!  I got the original recipe for this quinoa dish from my friend Jillian but I lost the recipe somewhere down the road and I've started making it up as I go along.  It's transformed into the recipe here, but I have to credit Jillian and Max for the inspiration!

I'm always looking for great ways to use quinoa.  It's a wonderful and healthy grain with a glorious texture.  In fact, this dish is full of healthy ingredients -- fresh greens, fresh herbs, protein from the chickpeas, and the quinoa.  The sundried tomatoes aren't too shabby, and their addition gives the entire meal a bit of a kick.  But once you top it with cheese, it's like heaven in your mouth.  Most of these ingredients can be swapped out for something else to suit whatever you have on hand.  In short, it's yummy, easy, and good for you!  This recipe will make 2-4 portions as a main dish, and 4-6 as a side dish. 

1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8.5 oz jar sundried tomatoes; take out half of the tomatoes and chop roughly
Several large handfuls of fresh spinach
2 tbls fresh herbs, minced (basil is great)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 - 1/2 cup feta cheese (you could use goat cheese as well)

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions in a medium saucepan (it's similar to rice, with a 2-1 ratio of wet to dry).  Substitute the broth for water in the directions.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat.  Drizzle 1-2 tbls of olive oil and heat briefly.  Add in the minced garlic and saute for one minute.  Add in the chopped sundried tomatoes and saute for another minute.  I usually add a dash of the olive oil from the jar of tomatoes as well.  Add your can of chickpeas along with some salt and pepper to taste.  Saute the chickpeas for about five minutes. 

Add in half of your spinach and gently toss the spinach around in the pan in order to wilt it.  Once the spinach has reduced in size and wilted, add the rest of the spinach into the pan and lightly wilt that batch.  This gives you two textures of spinach -- some more soft and some with a bit more substance.  Once the second batch of spinach is lightly wilted remove the pan from the heat.

By this time, your quinoa should be ready.  Combine the quinoa and chickpea mixture, and add the basil.  Dish up your servings and top with a sprinkling of feta cheese and some freshly grated black pepper.  Oh joy!

a close-up shot of all the happiness!


  1. YUM! Would you suggest a vegan alternative to the feta or goat? Not for me but just curious what you'd suggest.

  2. Oh my, I'm not sure! You could certainly just omit the cheese -- it's more like an added treat than an integral part of the recipe. If you want just the salty addition then you could try some greek olives pitted and chopped.

    Or if you have an hour or so to spare (or can do this step in advance), you could try your hand at making some mock feta cheese out of tofu! This recipe looks pretty good.

    The addition of the herbs is probably just to flavor the tofu more, but feta cheese isn't a really herb-y cheese. You could try omitting the herbs to achieve a more true feta taste.

  3. Quinoa and tomato is my world! Such an awesome combo.

  4. This looks soooo good, my kind of meal! Thanks for the recipe.