Dinner With My Family #20: Quinoa Monk Bowl

Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.

I’m not quite sure where we picked up this simple recipe. I was extremely doubtful about it the first time we tried it, but now it’s a staple in our home.

Give it a try – you might just be surprised.

What You Need
You’ll need…

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa (quinoa is a grain, like rice, that’s really easy to prepare)
3 cups vegetable stock (or water if you don’t have stock)
1 pound protein (we used beans; you can use extra firm tofu or cooked chicken or beef or whatever)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 to 10 cups mixed vegetables – whatever you like
2 cups barbecue sauce (we made our own, which you’ll see below)

The Night Before (or Early That Day)
You can cut up the vegetables in advance. Also, if you’re using meat, cut it into small pieces and cook them. If you do that and aren’t using vegetable stock for the liquid, pour three cups of water in the pan at the end of the cooking, then reserve that liquid for the recipe. That’s delicious stuff.

If you’re using dry beans, soak them overnight in water. The next morning, drain the liquid, replace that liquid with water, then boil the beans until they’re well-cooked (this will vary depending on the size of the beans).

Preparing the Meal
First, boil the liquid, add the quinoa, and simmer it for fifteen minutes, stirring it a bit here and there. The quinoa should absorb all of the liquid in the pot.

Dry quinoa

Turn the oven on to 400 F. Toss the mixed vegetables together and spread them out on a cookie sheet, then bake for 10-15 minutes, turning the vegetables over at the 5 minute mark. Cook the vegetables until they’re perfectly done for your tastes.

Mixed vegetables

If you want to make your own barbecue sauce, you need 1 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons molasses, a dash of garlic powder, a dash or two of chile powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 tablespoons water. You can add other things to taste, too – cracked black pepper, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a dash or two of liquid smoke.

Making barbecue sauce

Mix these ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl and you’ve got your barbecue sauce!

Finished barbecue sauce

You can serve the protein (beans), the vegetables, and the quinoa separated (that’s how our kids prefer it):

Separated

You can serve them mixed together with barbecue sauce (that’s how I prefer it):

Together with sauce

You can also serve them together without barbecue sauce or with the sauce on the side, too:

Together without sauce

It’s incredibly flexible! It’s also quite delicious for a light summer dinner.

Optional Ingredients
This recipe is incredibly flexible. You can choose the protein you like – tofu, chicken, beef, beans. You can choose the mixed vegetables you like – broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, corn, cauliflower, etc. You can make your own barbecue sauce however you’d like or just pick up a bottle of it. You can mix everything together or keep it separate on your plate. It’s really a flexible meal that can be made in a way that anyone will like.

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19 thoughts on “Dinner With My Family #20: Quinoa Monk Bowl

  1. Allie says:

    And for those who were aided by Trent’s explanation of what quinoa is, here’s another bit of help – apparently that’s pronounced something like “keen-wa”, which I only learned a few weeks ago even though I’ve known of the grain’s existence for several years.

  2. Nick says:

    Sounds like a Buddha bowl!

    I make a version with seared tofu, veggies, and a savory sauce. Leftovers are great too.

    Not going to link to it because my comment will just get moderated into the abyss, but if you google “buddha bowl”, my version is 3 or 4 down.

  3. Jill says:

    be careful with your barbeque sauce, ketchup is all sugar.

  4. I LOVE quinoa!!! I can be used in anything! Where did you find that large box? I can only find it at my store in bins you have to scoop out for yourself.

    Fifi @ Fififrugality.blogspot.com

  5. Rebecca says:

    I use a little less water than that, and make quinoa like rice. Bring the water and quinoa to a boil, cover and reduce heat to very low, and steam for 12 min. Then turn the heat off and continue cooking for another few minutes. Don’t peek or you let all the steam out.

  6. Kimberlee says:

    I am puzzled as to what BBQ sauce would add to this dish. The simplicity and healthiness is in the other ingredients.

  7. Emma says:

    Wow, the best recipe so far. I cook quinoa the way #4Rebekah described. Like rice, 2:1 ratio, all cover, simmer for few minutes and turn off the stove. After lets say 20 minutes it is done. Nice and fluffy. Quinoa is gluten free, I buy organic version in 5 lbs bags.Very gentle on you stomach, no cramps, nothing for grain of so much fiber. I sauté(some oil on the bottom of the pot) zucchini, green, and eggplant till they are soft with tons of garlic. Combine the ingredient in a lager pot. I prepare a lot of it .Good for lunch for next 3 days. At time I sauté a pack of grounded turkey, well spice up with black paper and garlic and mix it together with quinoa and veggies. I use cooked beans too. Throw a handfull of dry cranberries. Few spoons of extra virgin olive oil. You can add hard boiled and chopped eggs(or egg white)in one version. A can of tuna or broil salmon in yet another version. Love it. I can not however , picture the dish with BBQ sauce. Must try.

  8. I love quinoa and so does my family. We’ll have to try it this way! Thanks!

  9. Michele says:

    Looks delicious! I love quinoa…but, don’t you thoroughly soak the quinoa for 5 minutes and rinse with fresh clear water multiple times before cooking it?
    That is the recommended cooking method to remove the bitter taste.

  10. Interested Readers says:

    @Michele -I think now that quinoa is more popular it’s being pre rinsed.

    I have quinoa that I bought at Costco and sometimes I rinse and and sometimes I don’t and honestly I don’t really notice a difference.

  11. Jens says:

    I like to prepare my quinoa in water just as if it was rice, and top it with lower-sodium soy-sauce and toasted sesame-seed oil. Quinoa is also great to boil in a larger quantity on Sunday night, portion out, freeze some of it, and bring a portion for each lunch on workdays. And since I didn’t see it pointed out, quinoa is said to be one of the highest-protein (pseudo-)grains with a good essential amino acid profile for a plant. Its Wikipedia article is a pretty interesting read.

  12. Diana Freeman says:

    Dear Trent:

    I enjoyed reading your article on personal finances. I think you are on the right track towards financial solvency. However, when you speak of estimating the value of personal assets, there is something you must keep in mind. The real value of an asset compared to the amount you would be able to sell it for is often quite different.

    For example, you need money; therefore, you plan to sell an item worth $100, and you put an advertisement in the newspaper. Chances are you will not get any phone calls or responses to your ad. However, if you lower the price to $50, the item is sold immediately.

    When purchasing personal property, it is better not to want to sell it or plan on it’s financial liquidation. Real estate is the exception; however, it often takes a long time to sell.

    My point is that while personal property is indeed valuable especially to it’s owner; yet, it is difficult to get the full value when put up for sale. However, if you want to use personal property as a financial asset to sell when you need money, then buy used and chances are you will get your money back or more when you sell it. It is truly valuable.

    My philosophy is to save for “a rainy day,” rather than collecting a lot of personal property to sell for money. Keep the valuables you need and save as much money as possible. Remember we are in the midst of a deep recession, on the verge of another “Great Depression,” so in this day and age, I will go along with the saying: “less is better.”

    God Bless,

    Diana Freeman

  13. Leslie says:

    Sounds yummy. Just don’t forget to rinse the quinoa first or you may be bitter.Quinoa makes an awesome curry salad, too. Cheers!

  14. Johanna says:

    @Michele: A lot of the quinoa in stores these days is pre-rinsed. When I first started using it (maybe 8-9 years ago) I found that I had to rinse it (I ruined a couple of batches by rinsing it, but not quite enough), but lately I’ve been using it straight without rinsing, and it’s been fine.

  15. Kathryn says:

    It is good to soak (and wash/rinse) grains before you cook them too. If you are soaking beans the night before, soak the quinoa as well.

  16. WeaverRose says:

    I like to do this too, but I use mostly raw veggies (red/yellow/orange peppers, scallions, grape tomatoes, blanched broccoli, carrots, celery, etc.) and mix with balsamic vinaigrette. It’s good cold or room temperature.

  17. Steven says:

    Quinoa is like rice?

  18. Rhiannon says:

    Actually, quinoa is not a grain because it doesn’t come from a grass species.

  19. Michelle says:

    I cook quinoa in my rice cooker. :)

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