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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.

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?

Yield: 4 servings

Garlic, Basil and Parmesan Quinoa Recipe

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
  • 1/2 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.

Meal Plan: Recipes Featuring the Newest Superfood - Quinoa

Monday 4th of June 2012

[...] Recipe: Garlic, Basil, and Parmesan Quinoa from Sarah’s Cucina [...]


Saturday 28th of May 2011

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.

Maria T.

Friday 26th of February 2010

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!!!


Wednesday 27th of January 2010

I love quinoa - my favorite recipe is this one, with black beans, sweet potato, cilantro, and lime: .-= Misty´s last blog ..Soyrizo =-.


Monday 25th of January 2010

This was a new combination for me to 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!

Sarah Caron

Monday 25th of January 2010

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!

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