Dinner Plans: Quinoa

Prep 3 Delicious Meals From 1 Big Batch of Quinoa

Quinoa

Westend61 / Getty Images

By now, everyone knows that quinoa is highly nutritious. What’s less well-known is just how versatile it is. Quinoa’s mild taste means that it works well in all kinds of recipes. Cook a big batch of quinoa, and then incorporate it into three different protein-packed dinners.

Game Plan

Prep Time: 1 hour

  1. Cook 2 cups quinoa, using the ratio of 2 parts liquid (water or stock) to 1 part quinoa. First, rinse quinoa under cool water; this helps remove the outer coating, which can cause it to taste bitter.
  2. Toast quinoa in a dry pan before cooking for a deeper flavor. 
  3. Fluff quinoa just after cooking, then reserve 2 cups for the vegetable bowls.
  4. Use 2 cups of quinoa to prepare the tabbouleh ahead of time, doubling the recipe.
  5. Pack away the rest of the quinoa in a container and store it in the fridge.
  6. Boil the peppers for stuffed peppers, let cool, and pack away.
1:49

See How to Make This Roasted Rainbow Veggie Bowl

Prep Day Quinoa and Vegetable Bowls

Time: 45 minutes

Combine quinoa with roasted vegetables, white beans, and tahini dressing in this gluten-free, vegan, one-bowl dinner. The rainbow of colors makes it a pretty and nutritious meal, and it's easy to leave out ingredients for picky eaters or add a few of your favorites.

Roasted Rainbow Veggie Bowl
The Spruce

Getting Dinner on the Table

  1. Use 2 cups cooked quinoa in place of the wild rice. 
  2. Roast the vegetables while the quinoa cooks. 
  3. Heat the beans while the vegetables roast.
  4. Make the tahini sauce while the cooked quinoa rests (before fluffing it). 

Salmon and Salad Night

Time: 25 minutes

Quinoa makes a great substitute for bulgur in the Middle Eastern salad known as tabbouleh. Serve it with roasted or grilled meat or fish (we love it with salmon), or add feta cheese and black olives and to make a hearty vegetarian main dish. 

Vegetarian Quinoa Tabouli Salad
Joy Skipper / Getty Images 

Getting Dinner on the Table

  1. Toss the tabbouleh you made on prep day and taste for seasoning. Add a fresh squeeze of lemon to brighten it up.
  2. While the salmon or other protein cooks, set the table and put the tabbouleh in a serving dish.
  3. Leftover tabbouleh makes a delicious lunch.

Stuffed Peppers Night

Time: 30 minutes

Quinoa makes stuffed peppers—a retro, 1970s favorite—feel instantly more modern than traditional rice versions. It’s combined with vegetables and ground beef, making the peppers substantial enough for the main course. Add a simple green salad if you want to fill out the plate.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
VegaTeam / Flickr

Getting Dinner on the Table

  1. Use the 1 cup cooked quinoa. Freeze any remaining quinoa for later use.
  2. To make a vegetarian version, replace the ground beef with vegetarian beef crumbles or rinsed and drained black beans. 
  3. Chop the basil while the ground beef sautés.
  4. Watch carefully once you place the peppers under the broiler to melt the cheese; they can go from lightly browned to burned more quickly than you think.

Essential Info

Making quick weeknight dinners is easier when you start with a few building blocks. Dinner Plans is a realistic roadmap to help you achieve that goal, by putting in a few hours of work (planning, shopping, and prepping) at the outset. Preparing a big batch of one ingredient (protein, vegetables, or grains) gives you the flexibility to plan a variety of meals. And who knows? You just might discover your new favorite weeknight recipe in the process!

Show everyone how together you are: Instagram your meal prep photos and tag them #thespruceeats.