Quinoa is far from new to the health food world — it’s been called “the world’s most popular superfood,” and the UN even named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. It gets this attention for good reason, too. First, quinoa is higher in protein than rice or barley, which makes it a potential answer to food insecurity in many parts of the world and a great option for vegans and vegetarians, who get less animal protein. It’s also high in calcium, magnesium and manganese, which are all essential minerals. Finally, the BBC says, “Quinoa is among the least allergenic of all the grains, making it a fantastic wheat-free choice.”
Of course, health benefits are all well and good, but that’s not all quinoa has going for it. Quinoa has a sweet, nutty flavor, plus a delicate texture that’s less starchy than rice and other grains. It also cooks in just 20 minutes. But all of these accolades don’t mean every box of quinoa comes with free recipe inspiration included. If you’ve got a box that’s been collecting dust in the back of your cabinets, it’s time to bust it out. We’re giving you three great quinoa recipes that’ll use up a whole box of cooked quinoa.
RELATED: 8 Ridiculously Easy Quinoa Recipes
Meal Prep 101: Cooking Your Quinoa
Here are a few handy pointers, from The Kitchn, to help you prep your big batch of quinoa.
- 1 cup of dry quinoa yields 3 cups of cooked quinoa, so a 12-ounce box (about 2 cups of dry quinoa) will give you 6 cups.
- If your quinoa isn’t labeled “rinsed,” give it a good rinse before cooking.
- To cook: Add water to the quinoa (in a 2:1 ratio) in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 more minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.
Once you’ve got your 6 cups of cooked quinoa, you’re ready to get started. Here are easy breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes to prep ahead for one, or spread across the week for a family.
Meal Prep Menu: 3 Easy Quinoa Recipes
1. Breakfast: Berry Quinoa Power Bowls
Super-grain, meet super-fruit. Quinoa isn’t just a savory food for pilafs; adding berries amps up the nutrients and helps that sweet, nutty flavor shine. Damn Delicious’s recipe is light on sugar (two tablespoons of brown sugar for six servings), relying on the natural sweetness of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. The recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked quinoa to yield six servings — but you can cut it down to two-and-a-half cups and five servings to make all three of these recipes with one 12-ounce box.
2. Lunch: Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad
Who says quinoa has to be boring? Salty feta and pistachios team up with roasted veggies and tart lemon in this recipe to layer in tons of flavor. Your office lunches just got very exciting. Better still? The prep requires just roasting broccoli, cooking quinoa, and tossing things together. Easy-peasy. This recipe also calls for 3 cups of cooked quinoa to yield 4-6 servings; cut that down to 2.5 cups of cooked quinoa to stretch your 12-ounce box across all three recipes. (You can make up the difference in volume by adding more veggies or nuts.) Note: Pin this quinoa recipe as the perfect healthy side dish to bring the next time you’re invited over for a meal!
3. Dinner: Lemon Herb Salmon Burgers
If you know you should be eating more healthy seafood but you’re wary of cooking fish (that fishy flavor!), a burger is the perfect way to dip your toes in the water. This salmon burger is fresh and light and can be served over a salad or as a standard burger. The quinoa, along with eggs, help the patty hold together and have that “burger” texture you’re used to.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delicious quinoa-based meals. Fortunately, you can make lots of quinoa all at once and even freeze it to use later. For 12 more brilliant meal prep ideas, head here!