Author and food blogger Nicki Sizemore created the recipe for this endlessly adaptable, tasty quinoa bowl as a way to use up vegetables at the end of the week.
As a key source of complex carbohydrates and protein, grains have been at the root of human evolution since we discovered agriculture about 10,000 years ago.
Quinoa* is considered one of the “ancient grains,” meaning it is largely untouched by selective breeding and has hardly changed in the past several millennia. Ancient grains are often higher in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals than hybrids, and some people find that they’re easier to digest. Quinoa is also gluten-free.
Once almost unknown in the United States, quinoa is now a commonplace grain across the country. It originated with the Incas in the Andes Mountains, where it’s still a prominent food source, and it’s one of the only ancient grains that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Quinoa is high in fiber and a good source of antioxidants and minerals. It’s also one of the few alkaline grains, meaning it doesn’t create acidity in the body. There are more than 100 varieties of quinoa (!!), but white, red, and black quinoa are the most common (red and black varieties have a slightly stronger flavor, but they’re also higher in antioxidants). With its fluffy texture, quinoa is perfect for grain bowls or in pilafs, stews, or breakfast porridges.
I started making these quick quinoa fry-ups for myself on the weekends as a way to get rid of leftover odds and ends in the vegetable drawer. One day my husband James stole a few bites of the vegetables from the pan when I wasn’t looking. The next week he asked me to make extra to go with his egg sandwich. The following week he ditched the egg sandwich altogether and made a big batch of this for both of us, and I didn’t have to lift a finger. Talk about a win! This is one of our favorite clean-out-the-fridge meals, and I hope it will become one of yours as well. We usually use carrots and greens, because that’s inevitably what we have, but you can get creative using whatever is in your crisper. Top the bowls with toasted seeds and the sauce of your choice. For a vegan variation, swap out the egg for hummus or beans.
* By definition, grains are cultivated cereals — the small, dry seeds that come from grasses, including wheat, barley, oats, millet, and rice. Pseudo-cereals, including quinoa, are not actually members of the grass family, so aren’t technically grains.
Vegetable & Quinoa Fry-Up with Eggs
Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- ¼ teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, thick bottom stems discarded, leaves and upper stems thinly sliced
- 1 batch cooked quinoa
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 eggs
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
- Hot sauce, for serving
- Toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds, for serving
- Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and smell fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots and Aleppo pepper, and season with salt and black pepper. Toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pile in the Swiss chard and season with a touch more salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is wilted and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the lime juice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fry or poach the eggs.
- Spoon the quinoa and vegetable mixture into bowls and top each with an egg and some avocado slices. Drizzle with hot sauce and sprinkle with pepitas.
Sauces to Try:
Creamy Chipoptle Sauce (find recipe here)
Or, from Build-a-Bowl:
Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
Roasted Red Pepper & Cashew Sauce