Quinoa with Vodka Tomato Sauce

Quinoa with Vodka Tomato Sauce Recipe

I flavored this quinoa [pronounced keen:'wah] dish with homemade vodka cream tomato sauce, roasted bell peppers and parsley for color. I also added lightly toasted pine nuts for a nutty taste and a poblano pepper to give it a kick.

Quinoa is a great alternative to pasta, potatoes or rice.  One of the advantages is that quinoa is gluten-free. If you have someone in your house who is allergic to gluten, quinoa is the perfect option. It has a nutty flavor and is packed with protein and amino acids. The preparation is so easy that you will be making this dish over and over again.

If you're looking for other ways to prepare quinoa, check out my eggplant vegetarian caviar recipe.


Yields: 8 servings

2 cups quinoa
1 quart water
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or regular salt)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and sliced
1 yellow pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and sliced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup homemade vodka tomato sauce (see recipe in the tip section)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly dry-toasted
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


For the quinoa:

In a medium-sized pan, combine the quinoa with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the quinoa) and keep stirring every now and then so that the quinoa does not stick to the bottom and sides of the pan. Stir to prevent the grains from sticking. You want to make sure the heat is on low. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

This might take longer than the cooking instructions on the package but this way, the quinoa will be nice and tender. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Let it cool completely. Set aside.

Caramelizing the onions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet. Sauté the onions in the oil over low heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown and the onions are tender. Season with salt. Leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet, transfer to a platter. Set aside.

Assembly time:

In the same pan, add poblano, red and yellow bell peppers. Sauté them for about 2 minutes, then add the quinoa and caramelized onions. Lower the heat to low. Add the vodka cream tomato sauce. Stir well. Finish with pine nuts. Garnish with flat-leaf parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon appétit!


Roasting peppers is very easy. Once you know how to make them yourself, you'll never buy the ones in a jar again. To start, cut the stem off the pepper. Wash it, pat it dry, then brush it with oil. Place a grill on your stove, then char all the skin of the pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Clean the pepper using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed it. Voilà!

Cooking quinoa is ultra simple. It's very similar to cooking jasmine rice: count one part uncooked quinoa to 2 parts water.

How to make vodka sauce: In a blender, combine 1 (14.5-ounce) can of whole tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 2 teaspoons thyme and 3 tablespoons caramelized onions.  Transfer the sauce into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add ½ cup of vodka, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with ¼ cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of Pecorino cheese.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on March 28, 2010.


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