A quinoa bowl loaded with your favorite super foods is healthy, fresh, and satisfying. Complemented by a delicious orange poppy seed dressing, it makes a great light meal, and is also perfect as a packed lunch!
A quinoa bowl doesn't necessarily sound all that exciting...
...and really, if all you're eating is quinoa in a bowl, it isn't.
It's really rather MEH.
But what if you top the quinoa with foods that have a variety of flavors and textures, and that are jam-packed with nutrients and health benefits?
And what if you tie it all together with a deliciously sweet and citrus-y orange dressing?
You've automatically taken a MEH bowl of quinoa to SUPER.
To Rinse or Not To Rinse
That is the question...when it comes to quinoa.
Some people like to rinse the quinoa before cooking it, to wash off the outer coating, or saponin, which can contribute a slightly bitter taste to the quinoa. Then there are those who say rinsing quinoa before cooking is unnecessary.
I have always rinsed quinoa because that is how I have always done it, but there doesn't seem to be any set rule on whether you should or not and it's really a matter of personal preference. You can read a couple of articles from Epicurious and TheKitchn to read what others think about it.
You can also try and experiment by cooking a batch of quinoa that has been rinsed and one that has not and see if you notice any difference, or if you prefer one over the other.
Either way, you're going to need quinoa for these quinoa bowls!
Once you get past the rinsing debate, all you need to do is combine the quinoa with water (or broth) and salt, bring it to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes before fluffing with a fork. It's very similar to the way you would cook rice in a pot.
You can make the quinoa a day or two ahead of time and set it aside in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
I love drizzling my Orange Poppyseed Dressing over these quinoa bowls. With the bright citrus-y flavor from a fresh squeezed orange, combined with some olive oil, honey, vinegar, and poppyseeds, you've got a light and refreshing dressing to bring your quinoa bowl together.
Other dressings that would also work well is my Sweet and Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette or my Orange Honey Mustard Dressing. You can also dress the quinoa bowl with a simple combination extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and fresh ground sea salt and pepper. How ever you decide to dress up your quinoa bowl, I would use thinner, lighter dressings so as to avoid making the meal too heavy and to not weigh down the rest of the ingredients.
And speaking of the rest of the ingredients...
Your Favorite Super Toppings
This is probably the most fun part of putting these quinoa bowls together!
The whole idea of "super" foods is that they are nutrient-rich and pack a bigger health punch than most other foods. With the cooked quinoa as your base, it's then up to you what super foods you decide you want to top it with.
So what are some examples are super foods?
- Dark leafy greens, like kale, spinach, and collard greens.
- Vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, and radishes.
- Nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pecans, and seeds, like sunflower and pumpkin.
- Berries, like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.
- Beans and legumes.
- Edamame beans.
- Sweet potatoes.
I think you get the idea...there are too many possibilities to list!
You can also add a small amount of chicken or salmon to your bowl, or if you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, add mushrooms for some protein. If you want to make it paleo or keto, substitute the quinoa with cauliflower rice or even zucchini noodles.
This recipe is inspired by a super food quinoa bowl I had at Manuka, a restaurant we visited when we traveled to Spain one year. Their quinoa bowl was a beautifully light and refreshing one-dish meal that satisfied on so many levels, and it had avocado, chopped kale, beets, hummus, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pomegranate seeds on a bed of quinoa. I don't remember what their dressing was, but I do remember it gave a light and tangy balance to the rest of the food. I loved it so much, I knew I had to try and reproduce some version of it at home. And now you can, too!
This makes a great packed lunch, and is it's also perfect light meal during the hot summer months. Regardless of when or where or why, you're going to love how these quinoa bowls are full of flavor and texture and how good you'll feel after eating one!
Super Food Quinoa Bowl
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water (or broth)
- ½ tsp salt
Orange Poppyseed Dressing:
- Avocado or guacamole
- Chopped kale
- Chopped cooked beets
- Blanched spinach
- Sliced or chopped hard-cooked egg
- Cooked broccoli or cauliflower
- Shredded lettuce
- Shelled edamame beans
- Fire-roasted bell peppers
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Toasted Pumpkin seeds
- Toasted Sunflower seeds
- Chopped nuts
- Fresh cut fruit like mango, papaya, apple, pear, etc.
- Chopped chicken
- Legumes or beans
- Using a fine sieve, rinse quinoa well under running water.
- Add drained quinoa to a pot with the 2 cups of water and salt.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover the pot with the lid.
- Simmer quinoa for 15 minutes.
- Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork or chopsticks. Let cook 2 more minutes without the lid. Set aside to cool.
Orange Poppyseed Dressing:
- Combine all dressing ingredients, blending well with a whisk. Set aside until read to use.
- Divide quinoa into 4 bowls.
- Lay desired toppings on the quinoa in each of the bowls.
- Drizzle with orange poppyseed dressing according to taste.
- Top bowls with toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, if desired.
- Use a vegetable or chicken broth in place of water to cook the quinoa.
- Add other seasonings or herbs to the quinoa as it cooks.
- Quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to make the bowls.
- The quinoa bowls work best with light dressings so as not to "weigh down" the dish.
- Packs up well for a school or work lunch, even with the dressing already added to the dish. Alternatively, pack the dressing separately in another container.
This recipe was originally published May 7th, 2017 and republished July 8th, 2020 with updated photos and writing.