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Vegan, gluten free ‘Quick lunch quinoa’

November 23, 2011

This isn’t so much a recipe as a formula, but it is one of my favorite ways to put together a quick, healthy, vegan lunch with is portable or can be eaten at home. It is also gluten free thanks to the quinoa, depending on what you add to it.

I like to make a batch of this at the start of the week and eat it for lunch 2-3 days out of the week, depending on whether I share it with Ben. 🙂

This formula contains three key ingredients – a green, a grain, and a bean – a staple for many vegetarians and vegans because this combination is not only tasty but provides an easy way to create a complete protein source in a single meal, and in fact, in a single pan!

Quick lunch quinoa

Adapted from: “Cheesy” chickpea quinoa and spinach

Please note, the beauty of this recipe is that it is meant to be flexible and you can use anything you have on hand. It would probably serve two or three hungry people as a main meal, or it can be used as several filling lunches for one person throughout the week. (Note: if you get tired of eating the same thing multiple days in a row, and you are making it for yourself, you may want to cut the recipe in half, but to me, the beauty of this dish is having lunch ready for days to come).

Quick lunch quinoa

Adapted from: “Cheesy” chickpea quinoa and spinach


1 tsp olive oil

1 cup quinoa or other grain

2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups of water with a vegetable stock cube dissolved in the water)

1 small onion

1 clove garlic (or a small sprinkling of garlic powder)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (I partially drained them) – the tomatoes are totally optional, and it’s nice to mix it up sometimes with tomatoes, sometimes not

1 tin black beans (or any other beans) drained – I like black beans if I add the tomatoes, but otherwise other beans like chickpeas might be better

basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste (I used about a teaspoon of basil and of oregano, and a small sprinkling of salt and pepper)

chilli powder or chilli flakes  to taste (chilli flakes are really hot – I use chilli flakes but only about 1/2 tsp.)

Optional: If you have some on hand, you can add a few spoonfuls of nutritional yeast for a slightly cheesy flavor and an added nutrition boost.

You can also add fresh or frozen spinach at the end just to defrost or steam. I often add a bit of frozen spinach right to the pan when I make it, and then if I am at home when I am ready to eat, I add some fresh spinach on the side which I wilt slightly before serving (see instructions for this below).


Chop the onion, and add to the pot with a bit of oil in the bottom. Cook on a medium heat for about five minutes until the onion begins to soften and become translucent. During this time, chop the garlic if you are using fresh garlic, and add it to the onion and oil once the onion is softened. Cook for a further minute or two, then add the other spices (e.g., oregano, basil, chilli powder or flakes), and then add the quinoa. Stir everything together, then add the vegetable broth. Once the quinoa has soaked up the majority of the liquid, I added the chopped tomatoes, beans, and nutritional yeast. Then you just let it continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa starts to develop what looks like tails. Don’t worry if you don’t know what I mean – you will know it when you see it, or you can just take a bite and see if it seems cooked.

When I am at home at lunchtime, I just heat up a bowl of this quinoa in the microwave. I also like to add some fresh spinach. My favorite new way to gently wilt spinach (wilting it makes spinach a bit easier on my stomach than eating it raw) is to boil the kettle with water, then just pour a small amount of boiling water onto the spinach in a colander until just wilted.







I also like to serve this with some humus on the side. Yum!


For some related recipes check out:

No Meat Athlete‘s recipes for five other variations of beans and rice.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. A Tablespoon of Liz permalink
    November 24, 2011 12:37 am

    This looks so good, and easy to make too! Quinoa is one of my favorite grains, hands down.

  2. November 24, 2011 5:15 pm

    Thanks for your comment and for finding my blog! I’ve just had a quick look at your blog – it’s great to hear from another lactose-challenged person. 😉 I will be taking a closer look at your recipes soon!


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