Quick quinoa chickpea pilaf is one of those delicious foundational recipes that takes you anywhere your tastes and fancies lead you in just 30 minutes. Add this recipe to your plant-based toolkit – you’ll be using it often.
Why you need foundational recipes (like quinoa chickpea pilaf)
Whether you follow a plant-based diet or not, you need to build a foundation of recipes. These are the recipes with a few basic ingredients that you always like eating. But let’s face it – the same food over and over can get tedious and foundations are meant to be built upon, so that’s the idea here.
Building recipes (foundations)
When you start with a solid foundation, like quinoa and chickpeas with a tried and true cooking method, then you can start playing with other ingredients. For example, when I consider quinoa chickpea pilaf, I know I’m likely going to be using onions and garlic for depth of flavor. In particular, when you saute onions and garlic a natural sugar release occurs. This gives your food a bigger flavor. So that’s our starting point.
About all the vegetable broth
Because we’re cooking quinoa, liquid is in order. You can use water, but vegetable broth will build a better flavor. We use a lot of veggie broth in our plant-based dishes and because I am limited on space in my tiny kitchen, I rarely stock up on cans or cartons of it. I most often use a good quality veggie stock or bouillon cube. I then reconstitute it with water. If you want to ensure that the flavor is evenly distributed or you are mixing broth with dry ingredients such as flour, then be sure to mix thoroughly dissolve the cube(s) in water first.
When you are adding cubes to a stove top creation that will be simmered a bit, such as soups or stews, there are two possible options. Go ahead and reconstitute the cubes in water and then add to the pot or, for convenience, you can simply add the water to the pot, then the cubes and start stirring. I know it’s a bit of a hack, but I do the latter most often. I’m notorious for wanting to get on with the eating and I seriously loath washing any extra dish. I’ll trade getting a poor mark for that section of my cooking school exam. It’s real life cooking and eating I’m after.
Quinoa and chickpeas – my idea of foundation
If you need a solid foundation in order to have a strong superstructure, then let’s build it with quinoa. I’m serious. You can take quinoa just about any place. Consider wonderful Asian chopped salad or take a few ingredients and help yourself to a quick pear & quinoa salad. Quick dinners? That’s one reason we love weeknight red beans and quinoa. We always know it will satisfy and leave us feeling great.
Being not so current on all those food trends, I’m still a huge fan of quinoa. Yes, it’s a giant in terms of nutrition density. This means that per calorie, you’ll be getting a lot more protein, all nine essential amino acids, fiber, plus a bundle of vitamins and minerals all in a quick-cooking, gluten free serving. I rely on quinoa a lot because it’s super convenient.
That said, there are a few things to consider when you cook it. First, be sure to rinse it. Some folks find quinoa bitter and rinsing it solves that problem. If you want a nuttier flavor, try toasting quinoa before you simmer it in liquid. This is also helpful if you are cooking quinoa with other ingredients to ensure that you have some even distribution before adding the liquid.
How do you cook quinoa?
Cooking quinoa is super easy is you know the basic rules. First, the ration of quinoa to liquid is 1:2 For 1 cup of quinoa, add 2 cups of liquid. Cooking time will vary depending on the quantity, but I usually allow 15 minutes and a few minutes longer if I’m making more than 1 cup.
Mushy quinoa (yuck)
There is a bit of a debate in the quinoa world revolving around that dreaded, highly technical term ‘mushy’ (usually accompanied by the word ‘yuck’). If you want the fluffy and lite as possible quinoa, then add only water or broth and cook it uncovered (I know, unconventional). Covering creates steam and can add to the mushy factor. Other ingredients, such as the tomato paste, we’ll using for quinoa chickpea pilaf is going to compromise the fluffy.
Tradeoffs and compromises
In my book, cooking and eating for that matter is all about tradeoffs and compromises. It’s all around us. Convenience versus quality. Cooking time versus takeout. Spending more spending less. It might also mean, I want red beans and quinoa and I don’t need that quinoa to float away, in fact, I want it to stick to those beans.
It’s all about your intent. My suggestion is that if you are making a side of quinoa and just adding a few spices and liquid, go for the fluffiest you can make. If your quinoa is an ingredient within your one-pot wonder, don’t stress about a heavier quinoa. Stick-to-the ribs isn’t exactly a bad thing, is it? Not as long as it doesn’t stick to my waistline, and fortunately, no matter how you cook quinoa, it isn’t prone to that.
Variations on a theme
The basic ingredients for quinoa chickpea pilaf are a simple combination of onions, garlic, tomato paste, vegetable broth and of course quinoa and chickpeas. Where you can take it from there is all dictated by the additional flavor combinations you can use. Here are a few ideas and certainly not exhaustive list for some basic flavor profiles that you can follow if you want to change things up a bit.
When it comes to plant-based eating, if you want to lay the foundations for long-term success, start by gathering a few easy recipes that require ingredients you can always have on hand. Build on that foundation by changing up the flavors or get wild and use different beans (although I am always hard-pressed to leave my beloved chickpeas). Most certainly, you should never stop exploring new foods, flavors or cooking methods. But, keep your foundations close when inspiration or time is at a premium. And hey, you never know how exotic or wonderful the end result might turn out. Peace.Print
quinoa chickpea pilaf
Make 30-minute quinoa chickpea pilaf with ingredients you probably already have on hand and learn to personalize this tasty double-punch of protein.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: American
- 1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced small (1 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups vegetable broth or 2 cups water plus 1 vegetable cube (bouillon cube)
- 1 - 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1 ½ cups)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Timing tip: Measure out and prepare your ingredients in advance as the cooking process will go quickly.
- In a medium pan, sauté the onion and carrot for about 5 minutes until it starts to become translucent.
- Add the 2 cloves minced garlic, ½ tsp. cumin and 2 tsp. coriander and continue to sauté for another minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste and add the quinoa. Stir everything for another 2 minutes so the quinoa gets completely covered and starts to toast a bit.
- Add the vegetable broth and chickpeas. Bring the pot to boil and then reduce the heat to simmer.
- over the pan and simmer until the broth is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
- Taste and add salt and pepper or additional cumin and coriander if desired.
- Use the same measures and cooking guidelines for white, red and black quinoa. You can also make a mix of all three and get the same results. Just be sure to rinse it well.
- Quinoa chickpea pilaf also makes a great wrap. Just add fresh onions, tomatoes or lettuce and top with your favorite salsa, lemon-tahini dressing or maple-syrup and mustard.
Keywords: quinoa chickpea pilaf