I’m half beginning to wonder if I should rename my blog something about quinoa and desserts.  We used to eat quinoa about once a week but lately it makes it onto the menu at least two or three times per week in some form or another.  Lately Andrew has been asking, “Mom, can we do that thing where you type all the food we want to eat?” (i.e. weekly menu planning), and he puts quinoa on the list every.single.time.

Mostly we enjoy it as a main course but given its similarity to rice or pasta, it clearly has excellent potential as a side dish.  This particular version features ground chipotle chile powder, cumin, scallions and lime juice which ultimately result in something reminiscent of a typical Mexican rice side, but much healthier.  Considering that we make some form of Mexican food at least once a week, this will be going into heavy rotation in our house.  It also makes a nice base for vegetarian taco or burrito filling.  I used some of the leftovers to make tacos with fresh veggies thrown in and a drizzle of avocado cream sauce, and it made a great lunch as well.


  • 1½ cups pre-rinsed quinoa*
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1¾ cups water
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime


  • 01

    Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Toast, stirring frequently, until the quinoa is fragrant and making a popping sound, about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  • 02

    Replace the pan on the burner over medium heat.  Melt the butter and olive oil together.  Stir in the diced onion, chipotle powder, cumin and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

  • 03

    Increase the heat to medium-high.  Stir in the water and quinoa and bring the mixture to a simmer.  Cover, lower the heat to a simmer over low heat, and let cook just until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 18-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 more minutes.  Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.  Stir in the peanuts, queso fresco, scallions and lime juice.  Serve warm.

  • 04

    *If your quinoa is not pre rinsed, place in a fine mesh strainer, drain well, and then spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with towels.  Let dry for 15 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.


  • this looks bomb. I might make it for breakfast today.

  • Kinsey Drake

    This looks so good! I think I might make it this weekend with Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bean Ragout with some avocado and char-grilled epazote squash!

  • Kim | Just For Clicks

    I’m so sad to say that I struggle to bring my family along on my love for quinoa. SO I always look for new recipes to offer it to them in new ways. This sounds DELISH!

  • Holly Drainer

    This sounds delicious! Would be the perfect lunch, too!

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    hahaha “quinoa and desserts” is ok with me!! This dish sounds fabulous!

  • Shaina Wizov

    That’s great your son loves quinoa! This sounds like a great side dish, but I think I could just eat a whole bowl of this as my main meal too!

  • Perfect light lunch! You can never have too much quinoa. ;)

  • I’m up for Mexican flavors all day every day! I could see myself stuffing a burrito with this and being quite happy.

  • Vintagecookbooks

    just a note to say that I’ve spent a happy half an hour browsing. Love the recipes, the variety and the pictures.
    Laura x

  • Elizabeth Kendall

    I’ve loved your blog for a few years and am just commenting for the first time now, this recipe was delicious!

  • Cara

    This was fabulous!

  • Melissa Brooker

    Sounds delicious! Do you go to a specialty store to find the queso fresco?

  • annieseats

    Our local grocery store carries it, so thankfully I don’t have to look elsewhere! I’m sure many cheeses would sub beautifully though – there are very few I would turn down :)

  • Melissa Brooker

    Thanks Annie! If I can’t find queso fresco I will still try it!

  • Runawaygirl83

    I made this on Saturday night and used this as a filling in some warmed corn tortillas. SOOOOO good. I cut up some more lime to squeeze on top like vegetarian tacos and it was delicious. I will definitely make again. It definitely makes a great base to throw in some of your favorite veggies for veggie tacos.

    I did make one change, however, and that was using chicken broth in place of water. I went with a low sodium version so there wouldn’t be too much salt after all the liquid cooked out.