One Pot Moroccan Quinoa is as easy and flavorful as it gets for streamlined weeknight cooking. Gluten free, vegan, and sure to become a family favorite.
Why You'll Love this Moroccan Quinoa:
Friends, I am SO excited to share this super simple, yet wildly flavorful, dish with you. It all comes together in ONE PAN (therefore minimal cleanup) in right around 35 minutes.
I'm a sucker for Moroccan flavors (as evidenced by this Moroccan Couscous Salad), so this ingredient lineup really speaks to me.
Plus, it's gluten-free and vegan, yet protein-packed thanks to my favorite pseudo-grain, quinoa.
Additionally, this moroccan quinoa is make-ahead friendly and perfect to pack for weekday lunches.
You can enjoy it warm, chilled, or at room temperature, either as an entree or side dish!
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a quick-cooking pseudo-grain with a neutral flavor that takes well to just about any spice combination. Look for quinoa in the bulk bin section of natural grocery stores to save up to $2.00 per pound. Alternatively, you can purchase it in bags in the grains aisle of most grocery stores. Purchase white, tri-colored, or red quinoa for this recipe—they all taste relatively similar!
- Aromatics: I love using a combination of shallots and garlic, however you can also use yellow or sweet onion.
- Spices: This recipe calls for standard spices like cumin and paprika.
- Harissa: Harissa is a North African spice paste that looks like a mix between tomato paste and tomato sauce. It has a slightly smoky spiciness with bright acidity and earthy undertones, and is a great shortcut ingredient to achieving big flavor.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: Fire-roasted is key for extra brightness and depth of flavor.
- Broth: Use vegetable or chicken broth!
- Spinach: I love slipping in a green leafy vegetable like spinach for extra nutrients.
- Lemon: Caramelized slices of lemon create a beautiful garnish for this dish.
- Garnishes: In addition to the caramelized lemon garnish, I love adding castelvetrano olives and fresh parsley or cilantro. The olives add a buttery, briny bite while the herb element lends a layer of freshness.
Substitutions and Additions:
- Add Chickpeas: For further pump up the protein, stir 1 can of drained and rinsed chickpeas in at the end of cooking. (You may also need another splash of broth!)
- Use a Different Green: In lieu of spinach, you can also use kale or collard greens.
- Make Spicy: Either add a pinch of cayenne, or opt for a spicy harissa sauce.
- Use Fresh Tomatoes: During the summer months, you can absolutely use fresh tomatoes over canned. I suggest 1 ½ cups of diced fresh tomatoes.
Step 1: Sauté Onion and Garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until aromatic. Next, stir in spices, harissa, and quinoa.
Step 2: Add Broth and Tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and gently simmer until the quinoa is fluffy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 3: Stir in Spinach, and garnish with olives, parsley, almonds, and lemon slices.
Here are some tips for cooking the BEST quinoa:
1. Prior to cooking, give the quinoa a quick rinse in a mesh strainer to remove its natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter.
2. I love to toast quinoa in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes prior to cooking to enhance its natural nutty flavor.
3. Boil quinoa in vegetable for extra flavor. Or, make sure to generously salt the cooking water.
4. Once the quinoa cooks, allow it steam in the pot (covered) for about 10 minutes. This makes the grains even fluffier.
Quinoa is one of the few plant sources of a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
One serving of quinoa (about ¼ cup of dry) has about 6 grams of protein.
Quinoa is also gluten free and extremely versatile.
Giving lemon slices a quick sear in butter brings out their sweetness and adds layers of complexity. Pro tip (if you want extra caramelized goodness): sprinkle the lemon slices with a little granulated sugar before searing them in either butter or olive oil.
How to Store and Reheat:
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Reheat: Rewarm individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until hot.
- Freeze: Freeze leftovers in a ziptop freezer bag or freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
More Healthy One Pot Meals:
One Pot Moroccan Quinoa
- Large skillet with fitted lid
- 2 tsp. unsalted butter (sub olive oil if making vegan)
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots (from 1 medium shallot)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Tbsp. mild harissa (such as Mina brand)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ½ tsp. kosher salt (or more to taste)
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds (toasted for more flavor)
- ¼ cup sliced green olives (I suggest Castelvetrano olives)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Heat butter in a large skillet with a fitted lid over medium-high heat. Once melted, add lemon slices. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until golden-brown; flip and cook 1 to 2 additional minutes. Transfer to a plate and reduce heat to medium.
- Add oil, shallots, and garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in harissa, cumin, paprika, and quinoa; stir to coat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes in order to lightly toast quinoa.Stir in diced tomatoes, broth, and salt; increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until quinoa absorbs most liquid and plumps up, about 15 to 20 minutes.Uncover, and stir in spinach until greens wilt into mixture, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in almonds. Top with olives, fresh herbs, and caramelized lemon slices.