Italian quinoa and lentils is a one-pot vegan meal that’s as tasty as it is nutritious! Made with protein-rich quinoa, lentils, and greens. It’s seasoned with herbs that are common in Italian cuisine and made creamy with dairy-free cashew cream.

One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils | The Full Helping

Let me begin by saying that this one pot Italian quinoa and lentils dish is very, very tasty. It’s also nutritious, easy to prepare, easy to adapt, and super creamy and comforting.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can go on to admit that, as I was drafting this post, I thought to myself that I might as well have called it “how to make something super brown and mushy look and sound good.” I even asked Steven whether or not he thought the dish was too ugly to put on the blog. He voted no, and I tentatively agreed, but my apologies in advance that the appearance of this meal does not do its flavor justice.

One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils | The Full Helping

The idea of this recipe was sparked by yesterday’s post on iron. As I was writing it, and thinking about different iron-rich food pairings, the idea of a one-pot lentil and quinoa dish sprung to mind. The nice thing about this legume and grain pairing is that you can cook everything at the same time. Lentils take a bit more time than quinoa, but if you add the right amount of liquid, everything cooks up nicely together and finishes in less than 30 minutes. The dish is perfect for weeknights, or for when you’re feeling a little lazy in the kitchen.

You begin by cooking up some onion, garlic, and–if you have them–mushrooms, though you don’t have to add mushrooms. You add quinoa, lentils, and broth, then simmer the mixture till the lentils are tender. Finally, you stir in spinach (or another leafy green) and plenty of sun-dried tomatoes.

One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils | The Full Helping

If you, like me, are a big sucker for creamy tastes and textures in your cooking, then you can add some cashew cream to the dish as you finish up. I love the hint of richness that this adds to the meal, but the step is optional if you haven’t thought to soak or blend up cashews.

Of course, the point of this dish is to emphasize some iron rich foods (lentils, quinoa, spinach) along with some vitamin C (tomatoes). And indeed, the finished meal has about 32% of your RDA of iron, which means that it’s one powerful daily contribution to sourcing this nutrient.

But don’t let that be the reason you make it. Let the reason be that it’s nourishing, flavorful, and fast.

One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils | The Full Helping
4.7 from 13 votes

One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic minced (to taste)
  • 6 ounces portobello or sliced button mushrooms chopped (optional; about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes about 50 grams; oil or dry-packed
  • 5 ounces baby spinach about 4 heaping cups
  • Splash sherry vinegar or lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream optional


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is clear and soft, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and mushrooms, if using. Cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and reduced in size (4-5 minutes).
  • Add the lentils, quinoa, salt, thyme, and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If all of the liquid has been absorbed when you uncover the pot, add a splash of extra broth or water.
  • Add the tomatoes and baby spinach to the pot. Stir everything until the spinach has wilted completely into the quinoa and lentil mixture. Add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice, along with black pepper to taste and extra salt as needed. Finally, stir in the cashew cream, if using.


Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils | The Full Helping

It’s nice when food looks as good as it tastes, especially if you’re planning to put pictures of it on the internet. But this blog has always been (and will always be) a place where I share food that I’ve made and genuinely enjoyed eating. And, while prettiness is nice, it’s certainly no guarantee of flavor. Many of my favorite meals are plain looking, and no less beloved for that.

So, I hope you’ll give this humble dish a try. And if you like it, you can experiment with all sorts of different herbs and spices and vegetable additions. I’m excited to try another version with rosemary and sage, and perhaps to vary the greens (I’d love to try it with a calcium-rich green, like collards, soon). So many possibilities here, all building off the nutrient-dense lentil and quinoa pairing.

On that note, it’s a busy Friday before the weekend kicks off. Hope it’s a good one for you, and I’ll be back with weekend reading.


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Recipe Rating

  1. How would using cashew butter instead of cashew cream (I can’t find it anywhere so far)be in this recipe?

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe!
    I adjusted some things based on what I had at home, for example, I only had red lentils, not brown. It turned out beautifully, and delicious too! It was the perfect cozy dinner for a cold night. Using quinoa and lentils as a base, there are so many possibilities for this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I took the basics of this and added roasted bell peppers and lots of fresh mushrooms with broth. from here I can add flavors like coconut curry or hot sauce to punch it up.

  4. This was delicious! My only changes were addition of some leftover butternut squash cubes and substitution of vegan parmesan for the cashew cream. My kids both told me they did not want to eat it, and then ate every last bite!

  5. 5 stars
    Even after you telling me this was going to be delicious, I still sorry of didn’t believe you. Not even because it’s brown and mushy! However, I just made this, and all I can say is how very wrong I was to doubt you. This was sooo good! I love how versatile it is, too! I hate mushrooms, an allergic to cashews, didn’t have any onion, and really just wanted to use some of the random veggies I have on hand, and it still turned out great! This is def a new staple for me; thank you!

  6. Made this last night. So delicious and warming! The perfect cozy winter meal! Highly recommend and will be making this again and again!

  7. Fantastic! I got inspired and instead of the cashew milk, I puréed half of the mixture and added it in for the creaminess, used apple cider vinegar, and through in some finely chopped apples with the spinach! It was superb.

  8. This was an outstanding recipe especially for the little effort it took! Healthy and vegetarian with great flavor!
    I skipped the cashew cream and subbed in a generous splash of rice vinegar for the sherry- don’t skip the vinegar! Made the dish.
    I sent this to my cooking buddies and can’t wait to make it again! Thank you!!

  9. 5 stars
    Substituted mushroom stock for the vegetable stock, made for a nice hearty bowl of umami goodness! Thanks for the recipe, will be using it a lot!

  10. 4 stars
    I made this last night and like it a lot. My advice: don’t be shy with the vinegar! The final splash of vinegar (I used rice vinegar because it’s what I had on hand) really brought the dish together. Thanks for this healthy and tasty recipe!

  11. I absolutely love brown food and this looks like an beaut’ – thank you so much for sharing Gena. I’ll be trying this out as soon as I can…

  12. This is so simple and nutritious. Lentils are a big part of Indian cuisine and this recipe is so similar to khichdi. Would love to see you try out your own version of an Indian Khichdi!

  13. Made this last week and expected my partner to raise her eyebrow at the mushy brown appearance. Instead the first comment was a resounding “yum, we’ll have to write down this one in the ‘favourites book'”. There you go. I’m not really a big fan of quinoa but read your nutritional advice carefully about the uptake of iron and feel doubly good about the recipe. Great work Gena. Greetings from Australia.

  14. Hi Gena!
    So, I made this yesterday, and it is so flavorful… delicious! Thank you, for sharing this. I just ran in to one challenge, that I seem to run in to frequently when cooking my lentils. I can never quite get them done and soft. Mine almost always stay too crunchy. I thought maybe my simmer is too low, so I turned it up. And, I,simmered for longer. Of course, all my liquid was gone, so I had to keep adding more. Do you have any tips you would share with me?
    Thank you,

    • Hey Patty!

      So happy you liked the flavor. Unfortunately, I find the same to be true of lentils–a lot of variance in cooking time (I have the opposite problem as you — they seem to turn to mush in less than 20 minutes). This is usually a result of how dry and how old the lentils or beans are, so a lot depends on where you shop, when the legumes were packaged, and so on.

      If you feel as though your beans tend to take a bit longer than indicated, and especially if you want them to cook at the same rate as another ingredient (like the quinoa in this recipe), I’d recommend soaking them for an hour prior to cooking. I’ve actually started doing this with split peas (which always vary dramatically in cooking time for me), and it’s making a big difference. Hope it helps!


      • This is a great idea, Gena! Thank you! I’ll try this next time (this does happen to me on split peas, too!). Have a great day!

  15. Yum. This looks fantastic: rich, creamy and comforting. I often make a batch of quinoa/ lentil pilaf as a base for meals, then add an additional protein source and sauce, usually something cheesy, plus frozen spinach. So simple and yet so comforting. Brown food is the best!

  16. Success! You actually made it look beautiful. (though I really sympathize with delicious food that doesn’t photograph well…)

    Lentils are my go-to this fall. I am going to make this ASAP.

  17. Just to clarify, it’s calling for uncooked lentils right? Just wanna make sure I’m using the correct amount xD

    Can’t wait to make this! ♡

      • I just wanted to say Gena, that this (along with Mustardy Lentil Sweet Potato Salad) is my favourite recipe on the blog. I absolutely love it, and close to a year after it was originally posted I still make it regularly. I actually bought a big bag of mushrooms yesterday to make it tonight once again!

        It’s absolutely delicious, and tastes like something very labored-over and yet it’s so easy. I just make sure to get some cashews soaking first thing in the morning and then it comes together very quick for dinner.
        I also highly appreciate this dish too because of how much iron it packs. I’m chronically low iron despite all the whole grains, beans and leafy greens I eat and need to take iron supplements, so having a meal with iron in mind is certainly helpful. Though that’s not the reason why I love it so much; as I said, it’s just so tasty and comforting and I feel so nourished after a bowl of it.

        Anyway, my point is: Thankyou thankyou so much for this recipe. I’m sure it’ll still be a dinner (and work lunch!) favourite years down the road.

  18. Oh my goodness. Thank you for posting a recipe for something “super brown and mushy” that sounds and looks good! I love one pot meals and mine often turn out like this so it comforting to know it’s not just me. I love softer foods that are kind of in-between soup and solid. Its amazing how just adding a few colorful vegetables and/or some wilted greens or even just serving in a colorful bowl helps with the visual appeal. Personally I think yours looks delightful. Anyway, thank you so much for this post. it helps me on so many levels. Super brown and mushy = <3

  19. Well, you certainly do not need to apologize to about brown food, to me at least! Brown is one of my favorite colors – and in food? Consider these ~ chocolate, coffee, whole wheat, and lentils! Love them all and I know I will love this recipe. Simple, humble food is exactly what interests me and my husband. Thank you to both you and Steven for sharing it.

  20. I got a good chuckle when I read your opener because I know all too well the struggle with lentils and photography. Maybe it’s because of my own appreciation for lentils and quinoa, but I think your stew looks wonderful and would be happy eating this any night of the week. I’ll need to give your cashew cream trick a try- I love that touch of creaminess.

  21. I am so happy I saw this post before I finalized my meal plan for the week! This is now on my list to make and I am sure will make for yummy leftovers. It will be perfect with a baked potato on the side!

  22. I think there can be beauty in drab food, and this certainly looks beautiful. Thank you for this recipe- this is the sort of back pocket, cupboard’s-almost-bare-and-I’m-hungry meal I like to keep in reserve. I’m sure I’ll be making this very soon.

  23. lol, why is it always brown food that tastes the best? I think you did amazing work with your subject matter. It looks absolutely wonder and I can’t wait to try it out! It’s just the warm bowl of comfort I need this weekend! xox

  24. This recipe reminds me of my lentil stroganoff and would delicious served over noodles! It’s on my to-make list for sure!!