Mediterranean Power Bowls with avocado salad, chickpeas, and smoky red pepper sauce. These vegetarian quinoa bowls are packed with nutritious ingredients and perfect for meal prep.
Why You'll Love These Mediterranean Power Bowls:
These mediterranean quinoa bowls are loaded with fiber and nutrients to create the ultimate bowl of bliss. A go-to recipe for meal prep lunches, they will keep you full and energized. Chickpeas add a hearty dose of plant protein, plus extra fiber to complement the veggies.
Feel free to use whichever veggies you have or hand or that are in season! I love a mix of avocado for creaminess, and cucumber and red onion for crunch. Olives will add a bright, briny bite, which are always a good call!
For their versatility and simplicity, I have no doubt these bowls will become a weekday staple.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Quinoa: Quinoa is technically a seed that is one of the only plant-based sources of all nine essential amino acids. This makes it equivalent to animal protein in terms of protein quality. If you're not a fan of quinoa, you can use rice, farro, or couscous.
- Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas add a one-two punch of protein and fiber to these bowls. Alternatively, you can use small white beans or edamame.
- Veggies: The produce lineup in these bowls include avocado, cucumber, and red onion. This trio creates a light, refreshing salad that complements the red pepper sauce beautifully.
- Roasted Red Peppers: Jarred roasted red peppers make up the bulk of the red pepper sauce. You can also choose to roast red bell peppers on your own in the oven or over an open flame. The jarred stuff is just super convenient!
- Spices: This recipe suggests a Mediterranean-inspired spice blend of cumin, smoked paprika (fav brand linked!), and red pepper flakes. This trio creates the perfect blend of earthiness and savory spice.
- Feta Cheese: My go-to variety is Valbreso feta, which is super creamy and less briny than classic Greek feta. You can find it in most grocery stores with specialty cheese sections. However, classic Greek feta or Bulgarian feta do the job just fine!
Step 1: Cook the Quinoa
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until fluffy.
Once cooked, remove the lid and stir in the chickpeas and cumin. Place the lid back on to keep warm while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Step 2: Prepare the Avocado Salad
While the quinoa cooks, prepare the avocado-cucumber salad. Start by combining the cucumbers, red onion, and avocado chunks in a medium bowl. Add rice vinegar, salt, and black pepper, and gently toss to combine.
Note: You can make this salad a few hours in advance, as long as it stays covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
Step 3: Blend the Red Pepper Sauce
Note: This sauce can be made DAYS ahead. You can even double the batch and use leftovers on roasted veggies, burgers, fish, or grilled portobello mushroom caps. It's a super versatile sauce that can effortlessly upgrade weeknight cooking.
Step 4: Assemble the Mediterranean Power Bowls
Divide the quinoa and chickpea mixture evenly between four bowls. Next, top each bowl with a scoop of avocado-cucumber salad, and a generous dollop of red pepper sauce. Lastly, garnish the bowls with feta and fresh basil.
I also love garnishing with a couple lemon wedges to squeeze overtop.
FAQ's and Expert Tips:
Is the Mediterranean Diet Healthy?
If there was one type of cuisine I had to eat every day for the rest of my life, it would definitely be Mediterranean. This way of eating is rooted in variety, flavor, and fresh ingredients. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, legumes, herbs, and nuts are at core of most meals, and enjoyed frequently.
In addition, fish and poultry are encouraged at least a twice-a-week. Red meat, dairy, and eggs are consumed less often, though still enjoyed in moderation. And, perhaps one of my favorite attributes of the diet, is that wine is present at most meals.
Some statistics suggest that a Mediterranean diet could lower heart disease and stroke risk by about 30 to 40 percent. So, not only is it crazy healthy, but it's also crazy delicious. Which makes me wonder, what's NOT to love?
What Goes Well with Red Pepper Sauce?
The beauty of this roasted red pepper sauce is that you can use it in so many different ways. It's great as a pasta sauce, marinade, or even salad dressing. And, if you tire of the smoky flavor, you can substitute the smoked paprika for cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Or, simply leave it out and enjoy the natural sweetness of the red peppers.
Feel free to double the recipe and keep extra on hand throughout the week. It's a great goes-with-everything sauce to bring grain bowls and salads to life.
Can These Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls be Made Ahead?
These bowls are actually PERFECT for meal prep. You can make everything days in advance and assemble right before serving. I suggest storing the components separately IF you plan on enjoying the bowls warm. And if so, you just need to reheat the quinoa and chickpea mixture. The avocado-cucumber salad and red pepper sauce should remain chilled.
If you're fine eating the bowls chilled (which I personally love), you can assemble the bowls ahead and refrigerate until ready to eat. The assembled bowls will last up to 3 days refrigerated.
If you make these mediterranean quinoa bowls, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
More Healthy Mediterranean Recipes to Try:
Mediterranean Power Bowls with Red Pepper Sauce
- Small saucepan
- Mixing bowls
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 (15-oz. can) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ English cucumber, sliced into coins and then quartered
- 1 avocado, sliced into small cubes
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 3 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- Fresh basil and lemon wedges for serving
Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 (12-oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- Combine quinoa, 2 cups of water, and ¼ tsp. salt in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 12 to 15 minutes, until quinoa is fluffy and all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in chickpeas and cumin, cover, and let sit until ready to assemble bowls.
- While quinoa is cooking, prepare avocado-cucumber salad by combining cucumber, avocado, red onion, vinegar, remaining ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper in a bowl. Gently toss to combine.
- Prepare red pepper sauce by combining roasted red peppers, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt in a small blender or nutribullet. Blend on high speed until creamy.
- Assemble bowls by dividing quinoa and chickpea mixture evenly between four bowls. Top each portion evenly with avocado-cucumber salad, red pepper sauce, and feta cheese. Garnish with fresh basil and lemon wedges, if desired. Enjoy warm, chilled, or close to room temperature.