In the dark and cold winter months, a warm and hearty dinner is a real treat! One of my favorites is quinoa fried “rice.” It’s a healthy spin on your favorite Chinese takeout, ready in less time than it takes to get Chinese food delivery! It’s a real crowd-pleaser (even my non-vegan friends love it!), and it would be perfect for Chinese New Year celebrations or just as a Friday-night staple. Once you try it, you will probably prefer it over your go-to Chinese takeout restaurant; it’s that good!
This vegan recipe is adapted from a non-vegan one I used for years before I became vegan. It’s about the healthiest “fried rice” you’ll find. The quinoa provides tons of protein and B vitamins, and there’s no limit to the amount of vegetables you can add! Unlike at a restaurant, since you’re making the sauce yourself, you can control the sodium content. To keep it interesting and budget-friendly, you can use any vegetables that are in season (I recommend organic where possible/affordable) and experiment with adding new vegetables each time you make it. This is the perfect recipe for time-pressed cooks—you can make the quinoa (and even chop the vegetables) the night before and leave them all in the fridge til the next day, when all you’ll have to do is stir up a quick sauce and combine everything together.
If you don’t have leftover/cold quinoa from the day before on hand, that’s okay, too! Quinoa is very quick to cook; it only takes about 30 minutes. If following that route, you will just add all the vegetables and other ingredients in the order listed to the same pan that you used for cooking the quinoa. It’s a real one-pot meal and easy clean-up! To save even more time you can buy a package of mixed frozen organic vegetables, like green beans, carrots, corn, peas, or broccoli, etc. mixed together and use that. I actually like to load up on veggies, but then I would not be following the recipe.
If you don’t have quinoa available, you can make this with brown or white rice; it’ll still be fantastic! Leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days; you can also freeze this for several months (just add some freshly made sauce to it and re-fry with some more oil before serving).
Quinoa “Fried Rice”
Serves: 4 as a main dish (with plenty of leftovers)
2 cups uncooked quinoa (or 4 cups cold cooked quinoa)
2 cups water or organic vegetable stock
1 white onion, chopped
4 chopped and peeled organic carrots (would also work with shredded carrots)
3 scallions, chopped (I cut mine with scissors)
3 garlic cloves (minced), or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (if you don’t like a lot of garlic, you might want to add only 1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil
3 cups frozen peas (they will cook in the pan, you add them at the last step)
For The Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1. Rinse the quinoa in cold water at least twice.If you don’t, it will have a bitter taste. It’s easiest to use a mesh strainer, fill it with the quinoa, and hold it under a stream of cold water from the faucet for a few minutes.
2. Place rinsed quinoa and vegetable stock (or water) in an uncovered saucepan. Once it comes to a boil, put the lid on the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow quinoa to simmer for around 20 minutes until it is cooked all the way through and has a fluffy texture. Turn off the allow the quinoa to cool for 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork. Don’t add any salt; this recipe is salty enough as it is!
3. Place the cooled quinoa the fridge at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. If you don’t have time to store the quinoa in the fridge for very long, as a shortcut, you can put it in the freezer for 5-7 minutes or so (just until it’s cool, not icy!), but no longer.
4. Prepare your sauce. Mix the teriyaki sauce,soy sauce, and (if you have it) sesame oil in a bowl or mug.
5.Heat Once hot, Add the onions and carrots and cook for around 2 minutes. Add 3 scallions, along with the ginger,garlic, and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Stir this for around 2 minutes, and then add in the cold quinoa. Add the soy/teriyaki/sesame oil sauce you prepared and stir-fry all of this for another 2 minutes until well-mixed. Add in the frozen peas and stir until these are cooked and everything is mixed (another 2 minutes).
Add the remaining chopped scallions, and you’re ready to serve.