Garlic, Basil and Parmesan Quinoa Recipe


Meet quinoa. It’s a good-for-you “grain” (I’ll tell you why that is in quotes shortly) that looks and behaves similarly to couscous … though the two are not related. It can be used in place of rice or couscous for whatever you might be making.

quinoa3But what is it? Well, it’s natural — not processed or anything. And lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, I hear about this unfamiliar food. Quinoa, pronounced keen-wa, is a relative of ultra-healthy leafy green veggies and also high in antioxidants, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually a grain (hence the quotes above).

So, after hearing and reading about it, I got really curious. Is quinoa something that my family might like? Could it be a healthier take on our fav sides of couscous, rice or potatoes?

Quinoa is one of those foods that will take on the flavors of whatever you cook it with, making it pretty versatile as a side dish. The first time I made it (after heading a few towns over to the natural foods store where I could buy just the amount we needed from the bulk bin), I cooked it in chicken stock and seasoned it with garlic and basil. It was very good. Will practically inhaled his and once Paige was finally convinced to try hers, she ate most of it too. As for Shawn, he said that while it’s not his favorite, it’s definitely something he will eat again. I really liked it myself.

I’ve since refined my method, using vegetable stock instead and adding in cheese. It’s got a lovely nuttiness that works so well with the combination of basil, garlic and Parmesan — it reminds me of a good summer pesto.

As for locating quinoa? Not the easiest thing. In fact, my search made me wish I had bought more from the get-go. It certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to find. On my first trip to look for it, I came up empty handed at two stores. Then I headed to that health food store and found it. After that, I gave a closer look at one of my local grocery stores and found one (yes, one) bag of it, on the top shelf, with the couscous and rice. So, lesson learned: you have to really seek this one out … and you should. It’s really very good.

Here’s what you need to know (and what I learned from my food-loving friends on Twitter):

  • To make, you use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa.
  • You cook it basically like couscous — boil the liquid, add the quinoa, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Then you season and serve.
  • Rinse it before cooking. This is very important.
  • People who’ve tried it largely love it.

Have you had quinoa? What flavors do you like to mix it with?

Garlic, Basil and Parmesan Quinoa Recipe
  • 2 cups vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped (alternatively, use 3 cubes fresh frozen basil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt (sea salt or Kosher)
  1. Bring the broth/stock to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the basil, garlic, cheese and salt until fully combined.
  3. Serve immediately.



  1. zoe p. says

    For folks in the New Haven area, quinoa is available at Edge of the Woods.

    I like mine with black beans, cilantro and chopped onion and pepper. With a little lime juice and oil dressing. In the summer. Unlike potatoes and pasta, preparing this hardly heats up the kitchen at all . . .

  2. carmella fiore says

    Quinoa is my new favorite “go to” food that is incredibly versatile and full of protein. Thanks so much for including it on your site with some delicious suggestions. I tried your garlic, parmesan and basil recipe and it is excellent, and quick to prepare. I have been following your site for a few months now and I find your posts to be educational and full of intelligent tips. Thanks for giving us food geeks a great place to get info. Are you ever going to publish a book with all your conscious feast ideas? Let me know.

  3. carmella fiore says

    Pardon the last entry. I was on Nicole Aloni’s Conscious Feast site and thought this was her recipe. Please remove me from your e-mail directory.

  4. saramariesue says

    This was a new combination for me to try…as I’m fairly new to quinoa. Man this was a hit for me and I will be preparing it with the basil garlic and parm often! It was also a hit for my friend who had never tried or even heard of quinoa. She’s a fan now. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • says

      Saramariesue — Thanks for the comment! I am so glad that both you and your friend liked it.

      Carmella — So did you try my recipe then? Your second comment got me all kinds of confused :) And don’t worry, you weren’t added to any email directory by commenting!

      FabFrugalFood — I LOVE smoked paprika. I bet that’s fab.

      Zoe — That sounds fantastic.

      Maria and Scorpio Woman, thanks for the comments!

  5. Maria T. says

    This looks so good and easy- I love quinoa! Its awesome to find recipes that I can make when I have no time and that are also good for me. I am so excited to try it!!!

  6. Jaeny says

    My attempt with quinoa the first time wasn’t as successful as yours, it actually turned out bitter, maybe because I didn’t rinse it enough, apparently you have to rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse until it doesn’t smell bitter. Oh well, quinoa has been a family favorite too.


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