This recipe for tomato quinoa & chickpeas is so fast and easy to make! This is a perfect, nutritious side dish for home cooks in a hurry. You can add vegetables or other accompaniments to the recipe in order to make it a complete meal.
I love a good, versatile grain side dish.
This tomato quinoa & chickpeas is definitely one of those. It’s a recipe that work in a number of ways. You can serve it as a side dish, with some sort of protein and vegetable. You can add it to a vegan bowl. You can add a bunch of vegetables to it and call it a simple meal.
Best of all, the tomato quinoa is both quick and easy to make. It’s the perfect thing to whip up when you’re tired or in a rush, recovering from a long work day or cramming for a test. It features ingredients that you probably have at home already.
The tomato quinoa was inspired by Spanish rice. Spanish rice is sometimes called Mexican rice. It’s not a traditional Spanish dish, but it is Mexican side dish.
The origins of the name “Spanish rice” are apparently unclear. The recipe most often calls for seasoning rice with tomatoes, garlic, and onions. I’ve seen some versions that call for oregano, too.
It’s interesting to note that there is some version of tomato-seasoned rice in other cuisines. One example is kateh gojeh farangi, a Persion dish with white rice, tomatoes, turmeric, and, in some versions, potatoes. A Greek version is nntomatorizo, which my grandmother sometimes made with orzo.
So, why use quinoa in this recipe? I chose it for two reasons. The first is a quick cooking time—just 13-15 minutes. the second is nutrition.
I love cooking with rice, but when I’m aiming to get just a little more nutrition bang for my buck, quinoa is often my go-to. I think it works so well with the tomato, paprika, and oregano in this recipe, and its texture works nicely with the chickpeas, too,
Quinoa can be a little tricky to cook. Sometimes it’s too mushy, sometimes it gets dry.
My general method is to use a 1 cup quinoa : 1 3/4 cup water ratio. I bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, and reduce the heat to a simmer. I cover the quinoa and let it cook for 13 minutes.
Then, I remove the saucepan from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. I fluff the quinoa with a fork, re-cover the saucepan, and let the quinoa sit for another 5 minutes before eating.
Because the tomato quinoa cooks with seasonings, the process is a little bit different from my usual method for plain quinoa. But you’ll see that it’s similar enough.
The ingredients in this simple grain dish are easy to find. You may have many of them at home already!
I like to use white quinoa for the tomato quinoa. It’s my favorite type of quinoa (though I sometimes enjoy the nutty flavor of red quinoa, too), and it makes the color of the dish pop. However, you can use any quinoa that you have.
You can use vegetable or vegan no-chicken broth to cook the tomato quinoa. I slightly prefer no-chicken broth, but either will work. You can also use a vegan vegetable or no-chicken bouillon or broth base.
I use both tomato sauce and paste to add tomato flavor to the quinoa and chickpeas. The sauce I use isn’t a marinara; it’s plain tomato sauce, which I buy in 8-ounce cans. You can substitute a homemade tomato sauce if you’re lucky enough to have some at home!
The seasonings here are pretty simple: paprika (smoked or sweet/Hungarian), oregano, and garlic powder. You can add an herb or seasoning that you’d like to be in the dish if you’re so inclined. The crushed red pepper flakes that you’ll add at the end are optional, and you can adjust the amount to taste.
A note about the salt in this recipe: the broth, tomato sauce, and tomato paste that you use will vary in saltiness. So you should add salt to the dish to taste. I add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt to the quinoa before it simmers. I add more at the end, once I’ve tasted the dish to see how it turns out.
Chickpeas are my plant-protein in the tomato quinoa. No surprise there, as they’re the legume that I love best and cook with most often. However, you can also use white beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, kidney beans, or another bean of choice. A cup and a half of lentils will work in the recipe, too.
There are so many ways to serve the tomato quinoa and chickpeas. Very often, I’ll plate it with greens and another vegetable, as you can see in the photos here.
It’s fun to top the quinoa with something a little extra. Here are just a few additions that I’ve served on or folded into the recipe:
In addition to these options, you can always make the tomato quinoa more robust, nutrient-dense, and filling by adding some vegetables to it.
I’ve often defrosted and heated a bag of cut, frozen veggies—such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower florets, green beans, peas, or spinach—and added it to the recipe. This is a great way to sneak in more fiber, more micronutrients, and more texture.
The tomato quinoa & chickpeas can be prepared a few days before eating. It lasts for about five days in an airtight container in the fridge. In addition, you can freeze leftovers for up to six weeks.
I usually reheat the leftovers in my microwave, but you can also heat them in a small saucepan or nonstick skillet on the stovetop, too.
Who knew that adding tomato sauce to cooking water could be such a game changer for whole grains?
If you love the tomato quinoa and want to change things up, you can try the recipe with white rice. That will be a more clear nod to Spanish rice, of course.
I’m never sorry to have a container of this easy grain in my fridge, just waiting to be dressed up a little and served as part of a wholesome meal. I hope it’ll be a hit in your home, too.