Spicy Quinoa

Let’s face it, although Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse, it can get a little boring in a very big hurry. I know, I eat it all the time. Much like rice, quinoa is neutral in flavor and requires a bit of creativity and ingenuity to prevent burnout. Thank Heavens I stumbled across Cooking Quinoa. Wendy, the Quinoa guru, has helped me stay on top of my game when it comes to keeping my Quinoa recipes delicious and unique for my clients.

She makes everything from casseroles to tacos to wraps to muffins, all using quinoa. Honestly, I never knew there were so many uses for it!

One thing I like in particular about Wendy, is the way she develops unique dressings to “dress” her Quinoa salads. You can take basic Quinoa and transform it into anything from Tex-Mex to Asian to Indian. You also discover that the process isn’t as difficult or tricky as you might think. For instance, the easy-to-make dressing I used for today’s recipe was inspired by one of hers. Since I’ve made so many though, I don’t remember exactly which one  . Nonetheless, I picked up on her method and knew exactly what to do once I decided on the flavor and texture I wanted to create for this dish.

Let’s have a look at how simple this process is…

Sweet, and spicy was on my mind, so I chose my Homemade Thai Chili Sauce to be the foundation for the dressing. Knowing that it didn’t have as much heat as I wanted however, I decided to add a few dried chipotle chilies into the mix (Wendy does this frequently). The dressing was going to be a little bit of Tex-Mex meets Thai.

To create a dressing-like consistency that would stick well to the Quinoa salad without drowning it, I added EVOO and lime juice. To even out the heat from the chipotle chilies, I added a touch of Grade B Maple syrup and threw in garlic for good measure. The dressing is super intense, but evens out beautifully when mixed into the Quinoa salad.

Next, was deciding on the which protein and veggies to add. Did I want any herbs, other spices? I chose chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro and a bit of coriander and cumin for additional flavor. You don’t have to stick to this exact ingredient list–maybe try black beans instead–omit the tomatoes and use more bell pepper–instead of coriander, use a little chili powder–the possibilities are endless.

This recipe tastes even better the next day, so I always make enough to have for leftovers.  If you’re cooking for more than four, I’d definitely double the recipe. The next day, you can eat it cold or heat it up, it’s delicious either way!

Spicy Thai Chili Quinoa & Chickpea Bowl

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 3 people


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can BPA-free chickpea I like Eden Organics – see link below
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander power
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Himalayan sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 dried chipotle peppers (or more if you like extra heat)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tsp. Grade B Maple Syrup or 2-3 tsp. coconut sugar


  • Add dressing ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a VitaMix or other high speed blender, finely chop the dried chipotles before blending. Taste test and add more sweetener if you desire.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, chickpeas, chopped cilantro, tomatoes, bell pepper, cumin, coriander, dressing and salt. Stir well and adjust seasoning.
  • Serve warm or let cool to room temperature.


You can find Organic dried chipotle peppers in the bulk bin section of most health food stores. If you have no luck in your area, you can find Chipotles in Adobo sauce in your grocery store. Although they are not organic and most likely contain undesirable ingredients, one or two won’t kill you.
Keyword chickpea, quinoa, spicy thai chili quinoa chickpea bowl, thai chili

I love transforming ordinary into something extraordinary. Next time you want to impress dinner guests, hubby, boyfriend girlfriend, mom, dad or just make something awesome, give this recipe a try. I promise it won’t disappoint.