Vegan “Cheesy” Quinoa

This dish is the ideal comfort food for a cold winter day. It’s seriously nutritious–made with quinoa and nutritional yeast, has a delightfully nutty/cheesy flavor, is very filling for only around 265 calories per serving, is vegan and gluten-free, and takes less than half an hour to throw together from start to finish.

Vegan “Cheesy” Quinoa (inspired by Oh She Glows‘s vegan mac and cheese)

Serves 4

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Cheese sauce:

  • 5/8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plain soy milk
  • 3/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tbsp tahini

Boil quinoa in saucepan according to directions on bag/box.

While quinoa is cooking, add all the ingredients for the cheese sauce into a food processor or blender and blend for 30-60 seconds. When the quinoa has almost finished cooking and most of the water has been absorbed, stir in peas and continue cooking, covered.

Once quinoa is cooked, add cheese sauce and simmer over low-medium heat, stirring frequently. The thickening process will take about 5 minutes (don’t worry if you think the sauce is too watery- the cornstarch will thicken it up well).

Quinoa Vegetable Paella

I absolutely love paella (a Spanish, slow-cooking rice dish traditionally made with seafood and flavored with saffron). This quinoa paella offers extra nutritional benefits that the original white rice version doesn’t, and cooks a great deal faster. Plus, made with vegetable stock and without any meat or seafood, this recipe is both vegan and gluten-free. I was very happy with the way this dish turned out and I’m excited to eat the leftovers tomorrow.

Quinoa Vegetable Paella (taken from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and altered slightly)

Serves 6-8

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/4 tsp saffron, crushed
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut into quarters

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a mesh strainer and set aside.

Sauté onion and garlic in a deep non-stick skillet with a little water until soft. Add the quinoa and saffron and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, cayenne, tomatoes, peppers, beans, and 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth. After this point, don’t stir the mixture; the ultimate goal is to create a crust as the grain lightly browns along the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and cook covered for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, check to see if more broth is needed. If it looks dry, add the remaining vegetable broth. Place the zucchini on top of the quinoa and re-cover.

Cook for about 5 more minutes, until quinoa is done. Remove the cover, stir in the peas, and cook uncovered until peas are warm and all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Arrange the artichoke hearts on the top and serve.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad Wraps

The quinoa, chickpea filling for these wraps was delicious, but in the future I’ll probably choose a different green because collard greens have a somewhat bitter taste (the original recipe actually calls for kale, but I used collard greens just because I had them on hand). These wraps are great as healthy appetizers (if using half of a leaf for each wrap) or a full meal (if using full greens and more filling). Plus they’re both gluten-free and vegan!

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad Wraps (taken from Scandi Foodie and altered slightly)

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or another green), stemmed.

Rinse quinoa before cooking according to package directions (boil in 2 cups of water for about 12 minutes and then turn off heat and cover for another 5 minutes).

To prepare filling, combine quinoa, chickpeas, lemon juice, onion, olive oil and red pepper flakes.

Stem collard greens. For the larger greens, slice them in half along vein; this is unnecessary for smaller greens. Scoop some filling onto each green. Tuck in sides and roll up each end.