Spring quinoa

spring quinoa
Risotto used to be my favourite thing to cook, but the traditional version isn’t exactly nutritious and would leave me feeling heavy and bloated.  Alas, I needn’t have ditched my favourite dish!  I’ve discovered a way to make a nutrient packed, lighter version that I dare say tastes even better – enter, spring quinoa…

Quinoa is packed full of protein, essential amino acids, fibre, vitamins and minerals.  Combine this with loads of green goodness and you have a dish that delivers on nourishment as well as flavour.

Do you know that watercress has been found to be the most nutrient-rich vegetable?  It has a nutrient density score of 100, it’s rich in calcium, iodine, folic acid, vitamins A and C, and omega 3 fatty acids.  It aids digestion and has been found to have cancer suppressing properties. I’ve been quick to jump on the bandwagon and stirred a generous serving through this dish.

How to make Spring Quinoa:
1 1/2 cups quinoa, well rinsed (this is really important as it removes naturally occurring but toxic residue)
2 tablespoons of organic butter (coconut oil or ghee)
1  onion (any colour), chopped
1 leek, trimmed and  sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed/finely chopped
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or 250mL white wine
1-1.5 litres of chicken stock (or vegetable stock) – preferably homemade, otherwise organic and gluten free

Use any combination of green seasonal veggies, I used these:
1 bunch asparagus, snap off ends and slice
1 cup peas
4 flat swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced (you could also use dried porcini mushrooms)

Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt & pepper
Parsley (or any green herbs)
Watercress (or any leafy green veg) – handful per serve
Olive oil


  • Heat butter in a medium saucepan or stock pot over a medium heat, fry the onions, 2 of the garlic cloves and leek until soft and translucent.
  • Add quinoa, coat with butter and stir for one minute.
  • Add apple cider vinegar (or white wine) and stir.
  • Add 1 cup of  stock and stir until absorbed. Continue to add stock 1 cup at at time, allowing liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Add the peas and mushrooms half way through, and asparagus for 1 minute at the end. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked – taste for texture.
  • Stir through lemon, salt & pepper, parsley and watercress – adjust to suit your taste.
  • Serve with a dollop of labna and drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 6

* Labna is a delicious yoghurt cheese. If you want to make it yourself, it’s super easy, here’s how. You could also use parmesan, goats cheese, pecorino, or nutritional yeast for a non-dairy option – it’s got a delicious cheesy flavour and is packed with B vitamins.



Zara is founder and editor of Oh My Goodness. A certified holistic health coach, National Breast Cancer Foundation speaker and Bupa health influencer award finalist, Zara is passionate about making it as easy and fun for people to lead a healthy lifestyle. She's appeared on The Project and Today Show; her recipes have been featured on I Quit Sugar, Sport Luxe, and Show and Tell Online; and she's a regular contributor to Medibank's Be. Magazine and Fairfax health online.

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