If you are all about easy, one-pot, healthy meals... this recipe is definitely for you! Simple to make with complex flavors that are so perfect, even the non-veggie lovers will be going back for seconds!
The non-veggie lovers, such as my husband! When I tell you he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, that is an understatement. Now, to be fair, he has been eating low carb for a while now and so the potatoes are only in his dreams these days... but, before that, he could live off of steak and a baked potato every single night.
I think, after a while of eating tons of meat and potatoes, your body really does crave some vegetables. So, whether you are a meat and potatoes kind of cook or a vegetarian, this recipe is going to please you!
Vegetables don't have to be boring, not only do they have tons of flavor on their own, but, we have magical spices to give that extra pizazz. That is what I did in this recipe and each spice was picked so it doesn't overwhelm the natural flavor of the veggies, instead it just boosts the flavors up so you will enjoy a nice plate of veggies even if you are a meat and potatoes kind of person!
Personally, I am not a meat and potatoes person. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a perfectly cooked piece of chicken and nicely seared steak. I just really love vegetables, both fresh and frozen over most other types of food. Although, I do love pasta! One of my favorite meals of all time is Pasta Primavera. I made a version of it in the Ninja Foodi and it is easy like this recipe and equally delicious! You can find that recipe right here⇒ One-Pot Pasta Primavera in the Ninja Foodi
Despite my love of pasta, it does not love me back. I just don't have the metabolism for it and have to be very careful because for every 2 ounces of pasta I eat, it seems I gain 2 pounds!
A great alternative for me is quinoa. Yes, it has a lot of carbohydrates. No, it is not Keto. However, it doesn't cause me to gain weight like pasta and potatoes do. So, for me, it is a great alternative to rice or pasta and I absolutely love it!
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa has been called a "super food" by many and became crazy popular a few years ago. Now I don't pretend to know what exactly is meant by a "super food," nor do I care. I'm not trendy and I don't cook food because it is the "popular" thing of the week.
I cook food that I like and, honestly, I probably would have never even given quinoa a thought if it had not of been for a recipe that I was working on. I wanted to make a shrimp and grits with contrasting colors and quinoa fit the bill. Mixed with grits, it was perfect! I wasn't writing recipes for a living back then, so you won't find it posted, yet... but, I've been working on a version for the Ninja Foodi and I can't wait to share it with you!
So, that recipe put quinoa on my radar because I saw the red variety at the grocery store. I bought it, not knowing a thing, about how to cook it or even if it would work. I'm weird like that! I love adding color and textures to recipes and making them my own.
Of course, I had to do some research on what exactly it is and it turns out, it isn't trendy at all! In fact, quinoa has been around a very long time (like most foods that gain sudden popularity) and it is considered a healthy food. Sign me up!
Surprisingly, quinoa is actually a seed. So, the plant is grown for the edible seeds it produces and if you have cooked or ever do cook quinoa, you will see that it sprouts while cooking. It's beautiful.
How to Cook Quinoa in the Ninja Foodi
Way back, when I first started cooking quinoa, I didn't even have a pressure cooker! I cooked it on the stove and managed, but, oh my goodness... it is much easier in a pressure cooker!
First off the water ratio is 1:1, which means no matter how little or how much quinoa you want to make, you just use the same amount of water. I would not recommend making less than ½ cup of Quinoa in the Ninja Foodi due to the convex bottom of the inner pot. What can happen is the water drains to the sides and the quinoa stays in the middle and burns. Yes, I know this from experience.
You can try to move all the liquid and the quinoa to the sides if you must make less than ½ cup, but you may have the issue of running low on liquid by the time the pot comes to pressure. One of these days, I will get around to measure the amount of liquid that is turned into steam while going under pressure. It's not a lot, I'm sure of that.
The cook time for quinoa is very short, making a perfect quick side dish. I always cook my quinoa for 1 minute and I vary the natural release time depending on what I'm using the quinoa for. The range is between 7 & 10 minutes, when I'm only cooking the quinoa in the inner pot. It can be shorter if I'm cooking quinoa with other items and that is because the time to pressure is different and, therefore, the total cook time is different.
I determine the doneness of quinoa by the amount it has sprouted. If it is fully sprouted and fluffy, most people would say that is perfectly cooked. If it is fully sprouted and mushy, it is overdone. If it hasn't sprouted at all and is still kind of hard, it is underdone. I enjoy quinoa the most when it is just starting to sprout, but hasn't totally sprouted and puffed up.
The way you like your quinoa may be completely different, but if you haven't had it before, I would suggest cooking it until it completely sprouts and is nice and fluffy. I think that is how most people will enjoy it the most.
The cooking time for quinoa is different if you are doing pot-in-pot (PIP) style of cooking. I haven't done that yet, so I will update the post when I have the times down for that.
Is there a Difference in the Various Colors of Quinoa?
The most commonly found quinoa are the white, red, and black variety. Although it comes in other shades, I'm only familiar with those three. There are subtle differences between the three and if you are just trying quinoa for the first time, I recommend using the white variety. It is the mildest and lightest quinoa of the the three.
Red quinoa is a little chewier and has more of a pronounced nutty flavor.
Black quinoa has more of an earthy flavor, in my opinion, but, honestly, I have never cooked with straight-up black quinoa.
I always like to mix white and red or buy the tri-colored mixed quinoa. I love the texture differences of all three, as well as the way the various colors look in a dish.
Any type of quinoa will work in this dish, I used the tri-colored for texture and appearance.
Do I have to Rinse Quinoa?
If you purchase a bag of quinoa in the grocery store, it is usually rinsed already, so, no, it is not an absolute necessity. I always give mine a quick rinse though.
There is an outer shell on unrinsed quinoa that can cause the quinoa to be bitter and, even though the pre-washed kind has that removed, I still rinse it before cooking because I have had bitter quinoa before and it isn't good.
I use a fine sieve strainer and it takes just a few seconds, so why not?
Can I add Meat to this Mediterranean Quinoa with Vegetables?
Absolutely! In fact, I created this dish with using cooked turkey breast and it was wonderful. I cubed the turkey meat into large cubes (about 2") and added it to the pot before pressure cooking. It worked great!
If you want to add turkey or chicken, I would make sure it is completely cooked before adding. The 1-minute pressure cook time most likely won't be enough to cook the chicken completely.
You could also add thinly sliced raw steak, that would cook in the 1-minute pressure cook time. If you want to add cooked steak, I would add it after the pressure cook time so it doesn't overcook or become rubbery.
Can I make Substitutes in other Ingredients?
Of course! I'm all about the substitutions! You can completely change this recipe to be anything you want by changing the spices and switching up ingredients!
Let's say you want to make a Mexican Quinoa with Vegetables, this is what I would do:
I would replace the black olives with a small can of roasted mild chilis. Omit the green olives with the olive juice. Omit the artichokes (or leave them). I would add a can of drained black beans, about ½ cup of frozen or drained canned corn. Add 2½ cups of whatever frozen blend of vegetables look good to you. Change the spices to a taco seasoning. You can certainly use the seasoning blend I use in my Mexican Pot Roast Recipe or make up your own. I would start off with a couple of teaspoons of the seasoning blend. You can always add more at the end, so, in this instance, I would under-spice, for sure.
The most important thing to keep in mind while adding or omitting ingredients is the liquid to quinoa ratio. You want to have about 1½ cups of liquid for the quinoa to cook correctly. So, even though I only call for a cup of liquid in this recipe for Mediterranean Quinoa with Vegetables, we also have to account for the 2 Tbsp of olive juice, the liquid that the tomatoes give off, as well as the liquid in the black olives and even the frozen veggies give off water. So, between all of these sources, we definitely have 1½ cups of liquid. Make sure you do, too, when you are changing out ingredients.
The Mexican Quinoa sounds so good, I think that is what I'm making for dinner! You might even see it pop up as a new recipe!
There are variables with every recipe and even this super easy Mediterranean Vegetable Quinoa recipe can have different outcomes for people. Knowing how to handle those will lower your frustration and save dinner!
Water or Burn Notice: I have never experienced that with this recipe, but if either the water notice or burn notice occurs, simply turn the pot off and release the pressure. Once the pressure is released, open the lid and move the ingredients away from the bottom. The most likely culprits will be some quinoa burning to the bottom or if you made substitutions, you might not have added enough liquid.
If the quinoa is stuck to the bottom, gently scrape it off and remove it. You do not want to have any burnt quinoa or that flavor will permeate your dish. When caught early enough, you can simply remove it and continue pressure cooking.
If it looks like there is very little liquid left, try to estimate how much and add more to equal one cup.
If nothing is stuck on the bottom and you see plenty of liquid, give the pot a good stir and resume pressure cooking.
When you resume pressure cooking after interrupting the process, keep in mind that the dish was cooking during the initial time to pressure, so you will want to account for that and the next time to pressure by decreasing the PC time. In this recipe, I would set the time for zero minutes and reduce the natural release by a few minutes.
Quinoa is undercooked: I always recommend tasting your food before serving, so you can easily make adjustments as needed. If the texture of the quinoa is too hard for you, simply put the lid back on and turn the valve to vent. Keep the keep warm button on and let the quinoa and vegetables sit in the pot for 5-10 minutes. You can also use the sear/sauté on a low setting and stir constantly until it is cooked to your liking. Make sure to use a low heat and stir or the quinoa can burn.
Too Much Liquid: If there is too much liquid and the quinoa is cooked to your liking, simply use a slotted spoon to serve. If the quinoa is undercooked, follow the instructions above.
If you need any further assistance with this recipe or any of my recipes, please leave a comment or send me an email! My email is: email@example.com
How to make Mediterranean Quinoa with Vegetables
You can either do the minimal prep ahead of time, or while the quinoa is toasting. If you are slower with chopping, you may want to do all of that first so all of your ingredients are ready to go.
Remove the cloves from one bulb/head of garlic and peel them. I put the garlic cloves in whole, but you can also smash them for a more intense garlic flavor. It you want to use minced garlic instead, only use about 1-2 cloves or about 1 teaspoon.
Rinse the quinoa for a few seconds. Chop the green onions. Slice the tomatoes into 8 wedges each. Measure out the spices and vegetable base if using. If you want to use a prepared vegetable stock or even chicken stock, use 1 cup and omit the water in the recipe. You may also need a touch more salt depending on how flavorful your stock is. Adjust your seasonings at the end.
Slice up the sweet peppers or cut the bell peppers into slices, depending on which you are using.
Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the inner pot and turn the Ninja Foodi on high sear/sauté. Add the garlic and the quinoa. Sauteé for 2-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to sauté long enough to slightly brown the garlic. I also do my prep while the quinoa and garlic are sautéing.
It really doesn't matter in what order you add the remaining ingredients because they get stirred up anyway, but I always add the vegetable base first, so I know it gets stirred into the quinoa for even flavor distribution. I also wait to slice my green olives and tomatoes until the end, so if you have all of your prep done ahead of time, I would suggest letting the pot stay on high sear/sauté for at least 5 minutes while you add the ingredients.
You don't have to use green onions if you don't have them, a diced yellow or vidalia onion would be fine. I have also tested the recipe with leeks and they were great as well.
Add in the vegetable base, the artichokes, seasoning blend, black olives with juice, peppers, green onions, and frozen vegetables. Once the frozen vegetables are added, the pot will stop boiling and reduce in heat.
Give the pot a good stir to combine all the ingredients. Cut your green olives in half or slice them or even chop them, it doesn't matter. I prefer the larger pieces, so I cut mine in half. The green olives I used were also very large. 6 of them was about ½ cup. If you have smaller olives, just measure out ½ cup and that will be plenty. Don't forget to add the 2 Tbsp of olive juice. Not only does this give a great flavor, it is important for the liquid amount. If you don't like green olives and omit them, just add 2 Tbsp of water or stock. Add the wedged tomatoes and stir to combine.
Once all the ingredients are in the inner pot, put the pressure lid on. Turn the valve to seal and select high pressure for 1 minute. When the time is up, allow to natural release for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, stir and plate.
Add garnishes & Enjoy!
Mediterranean Quinoa with Vegetables
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp basil leaves
- ½ oregano
- ½ parsley
- ½ black pepper
Mediterranean Quinoa with Vegetables
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1½ cups quinoa multi-colored
- 1 Tbsp Minors Vegetable Base
- 1 cup water room temp
- ½ cup artichokes canned in water, drained
- 5 mini sweet peppers or 2 bell peppers (red/yellow/orange)
- 2.5 ounce black olives sliced in juice
- 1 cup green onions chopped
- 2½ cups Normandy Blend Vegetable MIx frozen
- 2 Tbsp green olive juice
- ½ cup green olives
- 2 small tomatoes
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ¼ cup green onions chopped
- Remove the garlic cloves from the bulb and peel. Slice the mini peppers. Chop the green onions.
- Turn the Ninja Foodi on high sear/sauté. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and the rinsed quinoa. Allow the pot to heat up and stir the mixture every minute or so. You can let the quinoa and garlic toast for 2-7 minutes.
- Once your prep is done and the quinoa has toasted for 2-7 minutes, add in the vegetable base and stir to combine. Add in the 1 cup of water and stir.
- Add in the seasoning blend, artichokes, peppers, black olives (with juice), green onions, frozen vegetables and mix.
- Cut the green olives in half and add to the pot with the 2 Tbsp of green olive juice. Slice the tomatoes into wedges and add to the pot. Stir.
- Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 1 minute. When the time is up, allow the pot to natural release for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure. If you want your quinoa cooked a little more, simply put the pressure lid back on with the valve vented and let it sit on the keep warm setting for a few minutes and that will continue to cook the quinoa.
- Plate, garnish with chopped green onions and feta cheese. Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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