Breakfast Quinoa

January 20, 2011

I only discovered quinoa a few years ago and it seems that a lot of people aren’t yet familiar this nutritious grain. The little seeds fluff up but remain slightly crunchy when cooked. The taste is often described as “nutty.” Quinoa is high in protein and contains many other essential nutrients. It also happens to be gluten free. I enjoy using it place of rice or pasta in many savory dishes, but I’d never used it in a sweet recipe until I made this breakfast quinoa. This recipe is packed with whole grains and additional protein from a spoonful of ricotta and sweetened with a touch of maple syrup. This was a welcomed change from your standard cereal or oatmeal breakfast.

I used red quinoa but it’s also available in a pale yellow version. Honestly, I can’t taste the difference between them if there is one. The seeds have a bitter coating on them so make sure to rinse them thoroughly. You cook quinoa in the same manner that you prepare rice: one part grain to two parts water. While your quinoa is cooking, prepare the mix-ins.

The recipe calls for apricots and almonds, but I think that a number of dried fruits or nuts would work. You just toast the nuts in some olive oil and then add the dried fruit, maple syrup and spices. Easy. 

When the quinoa is ready, it will be nice and fluffy. You simply dump it into the skillet with all of the sweet stuff and mix it up.

Then top it off with a tablespoon (or two, or three) of ricotta. I used the homemade ricotta I’ve been obsessed with lately. I just love a good sweet and savory combination. And this one’s healthy!

Breakfast Quinoa

adapted from Food and Wine


  • 1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (dried apples or cranberries would also be good)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh ricotta


  1. Rinse quinoa with water. In a small saucepan, heat quinoa with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Lightly fluff the quinoa with a fork and cover it again.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the nuts and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the dried fruit, maple syrup, orange zest and cinnamon/spice and stir well until heated through.
  3. Add the quinoa to the skillet and stir gently to incorporate all of the ingredients. Top each portion of quinoa with a tablespoon of ricotta and serve.
Notes: The original recipe calls for twice the amount of quinoa but I didn’t think it was sweet enough and I wanted more almonds and fruit in each bite. I’d recommend increasing the amount of quinoa if you want it to be just barely sweet.

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