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Spinach And Parmesan Quinoa

This spinach and parmesan quinoa is a quick and simple dish that has a ton of flavor for a perfect better for you dinner. Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

I enjoy this savory quinoa dish for dinner, as well as for an extra high protein side sometimes. Either way you go, it’s a fun dish that can pull together with ingredients you likely have in your panty.

Who doesn’t love a good pantry meal?

Bowl of spinach quinoa topped with parmesan cheese on a striped wooden board

I got a little creative last week as I was trying to ensure that my iron level was high enough to allow me to donate blood. For whatever reason, a steak or good, juicy burger just wasn’t interesting me (I know, what’s wrong with me?).

This savory quinoa is very loosely based on my take on chicken and pea “risotto.” Amazingly, even though I held out the spinach from part of it for Mister Man, both the wee ones loved it with the spinach.

In fact, Mister Man asked if he could have it again for breakfast the next day. Who woulda thunk it?

Looking for more great quinoa recipes? Try one of these:

Can I use fresh spinach?

Yes! This works just as well with both fresh and frozen spinach. I prefer fresh spinach in fact.

If you use fresh spinach, wash and chop it before you add it to the quinoa. It wilts nicely in the freshly cooked quinoa, so just stir it in when you fluff the quinoa and let it sit for a couple minutes.

Is spinach and parmesan quinoa gluten free?

It is! Quinoa is one of my favorite naturally gluten free grains, partly because it’s also a complete protein and high in fiber and s many other reasons.

For me, this makes quinoa a main dish staple in our house. And the rest of the ingredients in this recipe? Yep, totally gluten free.

Can I make this vegan?

You absolutely can make this quinoa recipe vegan. I make it with butter, chicken stock, and parmesan cheese, but there are easy substitutes that I’ve used when my daughter couldn’t eat dairy.

So yes, you can clearly make this dairy free, as well.

To make it vegetarian, swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock, one for one. If you don’t have vegetable stock, you can use water, but it provides less flavor.

In place of the butter, I use olive oil or vegetable oil to toast the quinoa at the start of the cooking process. Or use your favorite vegan butter substitute.

With regards to the parmesan cheese, you can choose to leave it out entirely, or you can substitute it. When my daughter couldn’t eat any dairy, I left it off, and she still enjoyed this.

You can find tasty vegan parmesan cheese to add the flavor, but note that it doesn’t melt the way traditional parmesan cheese does.

Why should I use freshly grated parmesan?

So first, please don’t use parmesan from the green can. Ever. It doesn’t taste good, and it doesn’t melt.

And you don’t want to look at all the ingredients, including cellulose (tree pulp).

Even if you buy bagged grated parmesan, they use additives that keep it from sticking together, and that prevents it from melting well. And honestly, it still doesn’t taste as good.

When you grate your own parmesan (or go ahead and use asiago or romano if you want), it has a better texture and taste. Use a microplane zester, and it goes really quickly.

Can I use fresh parsley?

Fresh parsley generally works equally as well as dried parsley in all recipes, and this is no exception. However, you want to use three times as much fresh parsley as you do dried.

Drying herbs shrinks it, so use a full tablespoon of fresh parsley.

When you use fresh herbs, add them near the end of the dish. In this case, chop your fresh parsley and add it to the pot as you fluff the quinoa after it cooks.

How do I need to prepare quinoa?

Quinoa isn’t a grain you can simply toss into boiling liquid and go. You need to prep it in advance, but it isn’t hard to do.

If you don’t rinse it and rub the quinoa together in the water before you prepare it, it can taste bitter. It contains saponin, which is great protection in nature, but it doesn’t taste great.

The easiest way for me is to add my quinoa to the pot I use to cook it and add water until it’s covered with an extra inch of water. I swirl it around with my (clean) hand and squish handfuls together to ensure the saponin truly gets released.

From there, I pour it through a fine mesh strainer, which ensures I don’t lose any quinoa grains. Give the grain another quick rinse while in the sieve to make sure the water runs clear.

Adding cleaned quinoa to a cast iron pot with melted butter in it.

From there, heat the pot and add your butter or oil. Once that melts, add the quinoa and toast it on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, which adds a delicious nutty flavor.

If you’re truly in a bind, you can skip the toasting step, but it definitely adds flavor and is worth the small extra effort.

Now you’re ready to go!

How to Make Spinach and Parmesan Quinoa:

Soak the quinoa in water one to two inches over the dry quinoa and use your clean hand to rub the quinoa against itself. Drain and rinse until the water runs clear through a fine mesh strainer.

Add butter to the pot and replace the quinoa in a small heavy pot. Heat it on medium, stirring frequently, until it has a nice toasty scent – about five minutes.

Toasted quinoa in a pot with a spoon on the edge.

Add the chicken stock and dried parsley, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it starts to boil, immediately turn it down to a simmer, and cook it covered for ten minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Fluff gently, and add the thawed and drained spinach. Stir to combine, and add the pepper and any salt desired.

Stirring spinach leaves into cooked quinoa.

While it initially looks like you have way too much spinach, it quickly wilts and incorporates into the savory quinoa. As soon as the spinach softens, remove it from the heat.

Spinach leaves now wilted into spinach and parmesan quinoa pot.

Serve immediately, and grate the parmesan cheese directly atop the quinoa.

Save this spinach and parmesan quinoa recipe to make again!

Bowl of spinach quinoa topped with parmesan cheese on a striped wooden board

Spinach And Parmesan Quinoa

Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This is a quick and tasty dish that's a fun way to enjoy quinoa. It's naturally gluten free, and it's a tasty way to get more protein into your diet.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, fresh grated


  1. Soak quinoa in water two inches over the dry quinoa, and swirl and squeeze grains. Drain and rinse.
  2. Add butter to pot and return quinoa. Heat on medium, stirring frequently 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock and dried parsley, and bring to a boil. Immediately turn to simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes until all liquid absorbs.
  4. Fluff gently, and add thawed and drained spinach. Stir to combine, and add the pepper and any salt desired.
  5. Serve immediately, and grate parmesan atop quinoa.


  • This recipe is naturally gluten free, but you can easily make adjustments to make it dairy free and vegan, as needed.
  • Read the full article above for tips and hints to ensure this recipe turns out perfectly every time.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 483mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 9g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Overhead of a bowl of parmesan quinoa with text one pot spinach quinoa gluten free.

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  1. Brenda says:

    I love quinoa but I have not made it in a while. This looks yummy

  2. Laura says:

    And what are you waiting for? link this bad boy up! Anything that has kids asking for it for breakfast needs to be shared!

  3. Kat says:

    I have never tried quinoa – is it more like rice or like pasta?? Or none of the above?

  4. Rhonda says:

    sounds pretty yummy to me!!

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