This simple Spanish quinoa recipe can be made in one pot and makes a perfect side dish for your favorite plant-based Mexican dinners. Serve this alongside vegan tacos, vegan burritos, or even as a side dish for vegan Mexican lasagna.
Spanish style quinoa is easy to make, and it’s also gluten-free and very nutritious!
Mexican food is so great to share with others because you can make it meat-free and most people won’t even notice! And if you have gluten-free folks in your crowd, it’s also easy to make a lot of international dishes gluten-free as well.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Toasting quinoa in olive oil brings out its naturally nutty flavor
- Adding salsa creates a distinctive south-of-the-border aroma and essence.
- Garnishing with fresh herbs adds flavor and a variety of colors.
Using the Best Quinoa
There are hundreds of varieties of quinoa, but there are three main types used most often: 1) white quinoa, 2) red quinoa, and 3) tri-color quinoa. White quinoa is the most common and has a light and fluffy texture when cooked. Red quinoa has a nuttier flavor and cooks with a bit of a crunch. Tri-color is a blend of 3 quinoas (white, red, and black). It’s my favorite because it blends in the nuttier flavors from the red and black quinoa with the better consistency from the white quinoa.
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Olive oil — You can cook the onions in olive oil, canola oil, or substitute 1/4 cup of water for an oil-free recipe.
- Onion — Use either a white or yellow onion.
- Bell Peppers — Choose a red, yellow, or green bell pepper. I find the red and yellow bell peppers have a milder flavor.
- Garlic — You’ll need 3 cloves of garlic.
- Quinoa — Use tricolor or white quinoa. I find red quinoa cooks differently and may not be optimal for this recipe.
- Vegetable broth — Be sure to use a high-quality vegetable broth.
- Salsa — Use mild or spicy salsa, depending on your preferences.
- Dried Oregano — This herb adds lots of flavor to the finished dish.
- Garnish — Garnish with chopped bell peppers, sliced green onions, or chopped tomatoes.
How To Make Spanish Quinoa
- Cook onions and peppers until tender over medium heat in a saucepan with added oil.
- Add the minced garlic and quinoa and cook another 5 minutes, stirring until the quinoa is coated with the oil and lightly toasted.
- Stir in the vegetable broth, salsa, and oregano. Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the liquid has cooked down and the quinoa is tender.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and then fluff it with a fork.
- Top with chopped herbs like fresh cilantro or fresh parsley.
Store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months.
Is Quinoa Healthy?
Quinoa is basically a seed, which means it’s packed with nutrients, like protein, fiber, magnesium, and more. Also, cooks love it because you can make quinoa easy and quick — no soaking is required!
Spanish Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Do you love easy quinoa recipes? You can use this tasty Spanish quinoa to make plant-based stuffed peppers.
- Main Meal Dish — Use my vegan stuffed peppers recipe as a guide for preparing the bell peppers. Stuff the roasted peppers with this Spanish quinoa mixture and top them with vegan cheddar shreds. Bake at 350°F/175°C for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the peppers are tender.
- Appetizer — Use mini bell peppers to make this into stuffed pepper appetizers. Cut the mini bell peppers in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the quinoa and add vegan cheese shreds on top. Fill up a baking tray with these and bake at 350°F/175°C for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the peppers are tender.
More Vegan Mexican Recipes
If you love this quinoa Spanish rice, you should for these amazing vegan Mexican recipes:
That’s it for this Spanish quinoa recipe. Enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup chunky salsa (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Garnish: add fresh chopped herbs like cilantro or parsley
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and bell peppers and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and quinoa and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly. The quinoa should start to turn golden brown.
- Stir in the vegetable broth, salsa and oregano. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer (low boil) and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.
- Let the quinoa sit in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes after it's done. Then fluffy with a fork and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with chopped herbs on top.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.