Quinoa bowls

Make Your Own Quinoa Bowls

From my August TU story, The Zoe tree.

Quinoa bowls were born from an idea Zoe herself gave to me. If your kids are anything like mine, they love to eat out. They go out for coffee, for smoothies, for ice cream and sandwiches, even when there’s a full refrigerator. One evening, Zoe said she was going out to buy a bowl for dinner. A bowl with quinoa, chicken and vegetables. Wait a second, I said, hold on. We have all of those things, right in that refrigerator. And so we made bowls from what was in the fridge that night, and have improved upon it ever since. Bowls are more than the vessel that holds your morning cereal. It’s a dish, a collection of food that typically involves healthy stuff, like whole grains, leafy greens and vegetables, lean meat. Then, herbs, seeds, cheese and drizzles of dressing. The thing is, bowls are so great because you can lay out a bunch of healthy foods and let everyone make their own. And it’s served, of course, in a bowl, to hold all of the good things and the dressing that goes over it. Here, nutty, healthy quinoa goes along with lean chicken, red peppers, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and a tasty, creamy dressing. Use this recipe as a guide and create your own bowl station. As long as what you’re offering has lots of color, crunch and flavor, the bowls will be filling, appealing to the eye and taste good, too.

Make Your Own Quinoa Bowls

Recipe by Caroline Barrett




  • 1 cup quinoa

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 heaping teaspoon black pepper

  • Four chicken breasts, halved horizontally

  • 2 ears of corn, shucked

  • 4 cups salad greens

  • 1 red pepper, stemmed and ribs and seeds removed, julienned

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, julienned

  • Pepitas, for garnish

  • Creamy Romano Dressing (recipe follows)


  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve. Combine with 2 cups of water, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir, then allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. Stir together the smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl, then rub over all sides of the chicken. Light the grill (or grill pan) to medium, and cook the chicken breasts over well-oiled grates, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and allow to cool.
  • Grill the corn alongside the chicken: brush the cobs with a bit of oil and place over medium heat. Cook, turning, until browned and slightly charred all over. Do this in five minutes or so – any longer and the kernels will dry out. Cool, then cut the corn from the cob.
  • Lay the ingredients out and let everyone assemble their own bowls. Layer the salad greens, about ⅓ cup quinoa, red pepper, tomatoes, basil and pepitas. Drizzle the dressing over all and eat immediately. You could also assemble one large salad (for a party, say) by layering all of the ingredients on a large platter. Serve any extra dressing on the side.


  • Creamy Romano Dressing: makes about 1 cup
  • ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil, Juice of one lemon, ¼ cup grated Romano cheese, 1 garlic clove, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, Plenty of black pepper
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Taste and add more lemon or salt, if you like. Keeps in a glass container, refrigerated, for three days.

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