This One Pot Mediterranean Quinoa is easy, super healthy, fresh and crazy delicious too!
This One Pot Mediterranean Quinoa is light, lean and a perfect antidote for enjoying too much of the wrong kinds of food.
Life is settling back into a normal routine here at The Café after a wonderful three week visit with family in London. It's good to be back home, wonderful to sleep in our own beds, cook again in my little Carolina kitchen and catch up with family and friends.
I would say it isn't fair, but I know the truth - we enjoyed way more than a lion's share of croissants, chocolate, baguettes, pain au raisins, etc. (we are food bloggers, after all!). Consequently, the jeans are fitting a wee bit snug...
So, we're increasing our activity, limiting snacking to rabbit food (that's what Scott calls my veggie snacks) and trying to generally eat lighter, leaner and healthier. This One Pot Mediterranean Quinoa fits the bill and is a perfect antidote for the three weeks of indulging.
It's easy to make, full of fresh, healthy ingredients, keeps you satisfied for hours and is super delicious as well! That makes it a win-win-win-win for us!
Several months ago, my daughter-in-law, Lindsay kindly offered to test some of my recipe creations. I love this because it's super helpful to see how a recipe performs in another kitchen; with a different stove, oven, cookware, etc. Lindsay and Nick (our son) not only enjoy good food but are very honest critics, so I know I'll be sure to get a constructive evaluation.
I emailed Lindsay the recipe for this One Pot Mediterranean Quinoa several weeks ago and she decided to try it out one Saturday for lunch. She wasn't sure if three year old Emmy would like it and figured she'd probably need to prepare something different for her.
Lindsay texted after lunch that day:
Think we might have a little foodie in the making?
To make the salad prep super simple and quick, I use one of my favorite kitchen tools, this wonderful little chopper.
I can have all the ingredients chopped into a perfect dice in minutes!
It's inexpensive and, to me, worth it's weight in gold since it saves me a ton of time in the kitchen.
Once the veggies are chopped, this dinner comes together quickly - the quinoa is rinsed, drained and toasted (this keeps it from getting soggy - read more about how to cook perfect quinoa) for a few minutes in a large, oven-safe pan, then tomatoes, garbanzo beans, dry herbs and a scoop of pesto are added.
A slow simmer for 20 minutes comes next.
After a 10 minute rest, all the good fresh ingredients (peppers, red onion, avocado and cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado) are added along with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Finishing touches? Diced Feta cheese and finely chopped fresh rosemary.
That's it - a super healthy, flavorful, one pot dinner, ready to enjoy! Add a loaf of warm crusty bread and you've got a delicious vegetarian dinner. Or serve it as a side with grilled or roasted chicken, pork, beef, seafood, etc. You could add shredded rotisserie chicken or sautéed shrimp for a heartier meal. And if you have any leftovers, this salad would make a great lunch to take to work or school.
Your jeans are probably fitting just fine. Nevertheless, put this One Pot Mediterranean Quinoa in your menu plans sometime soon. It's always good to have a few easy, healthy, quick dinner recipes up your sleeve that most everyone will love. If Emmy were at your table, she'd be sure to tell you, "It's good for the blog!". At our house, that's translated to mean it's REALLY good!
P.S. If you're not a huge fan of garbanzo beans, this recipe might change your mind. I like them in hummus but I'm not super fond of them right out of the can. They're too hard and not very flavorful to me but I love them in this dish. After being cooked with the other ingredients the beans soften and transform into melt in your mouth deliciousness. Try it, you'll see what I mean!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 14 ½- ounce can petite diced tomatoes*
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 15 ounce can chick peas drained
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow bell pepper
- ¼ medium red onion
- 1 medium avocado peeled, cored and halved
- 1 medium English seedless cucumbers**, or three mini cucumbers
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, red, yellow or a combination, halved
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces Feta cheese**** diced or crumbled
- 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped rosemary***
Fill a medium size bowl about half way full of fresh water. Add the quinoa and stir or swish with your hand for about 30 seconds. Drain quinoa and allow to sit in strainer for about 10 minutes while prepping veggies.
Dice peppers, red onion and cucumber into ¼-inch pieces. I like to use my veggie chopper for this.
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add drained quinoa and cook, stirring constantly until all liquid is evaporated and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, about 2-3 minutes. (Don't skip this step. This will keep your quinoa from being soggy and clumping together.)
Add tomatoes (undrained), pesto, broth, drained chickpeas, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low (maintaining just a slight simmer). Cook for 20 minutes then remove cover and turn off heat. Cool, uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir with a fork to fluff.
Dice avocado into ¼-inch pieces.
Add diced peppers, red onion, avocado, cucumber and halved tomatoes to quinoa. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Stir gently to combine.
Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Top with Feta cheese and chopped rosemary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
* If you can't find or don't have petite diced, regular diced tomatoes will work just fine. Fire roasted, diced tomatoes also work well and give nice deep color.
** you could also use a regular cucumber, just scoop out the seeds before dicing
*** 2 tablespoons fresh basil also works well in place of the rosemary
**** I prefer to purchase block Feta, as I think it has better flavor and adds to the presentation, but crumbled will also work.