If I’m going to take a few unplanned months away from sharing recipes, I better have a great one to kick off coming back to blogging, and this recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice is it. Who doesn’t love fried rice? It’s salty and buttery all at once, and always satisfies that takeout craving. Sometimes, though, I want to eat healthier (well, slightly healthier) or have a more filling meal, and substituting quinoa for the rice in this recipe gets the job done.
In terms of making this recipe more filling for work lunches, I always add crispy fried chicken, tossed in a bit of extra sesame oil at the end of cooking, to get me through an afternoon of teaching. You can easily do this as vegetarian dish without the chicken, add an extra scrambled egg or two, or add tofu. Or, simply enjoy as is.
One other thing I love about this meal is that it’s a great recipe to make during the same week you try out my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, since you’ve already got over half of what you need to make those once you’ve grocery shopped for this recipe! The flavors are definitely distinctly different, still, so it’s a great way to save money on groceries and using up your ingredients while still varying up what you eat.
Quinoa seems to really multiply and I always end up with a mountain of it - which is exactly what you want when you’re adding awesome flavors like sautéed onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh chopped scallions, and more. This is a great recipe to cook for a crowd and has a relatively inexpensive base in the quinoa. Cheap, tasty, health(ier)…add this to your calendar for dinner next week!
Quinoa Fried Rice
Makes 4-6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Soy sauce: Beef & Broccoli // Chicken, carrots, soy sauce, and quinoa: Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: Instant Pot: High, 1 minutes NPR 5 minutes plus 15 minutes "frying" the quinoa // Stove top: 30 minutes
Total Time: Depending on cooking method, 30-45 minutes
1 cup dry quinoa
4 tbsp. butter
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
2 scallions, chopped
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil + 2 more if making crispy chicken strips
Optional: 2 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out chicken or add tofu.
Gluten Free As long as you confirm all of your ingredients are gluten free, this recipe is gluten-free friendly. Double check your soy sauce.
Vegan: Use additional oil as needed rather than butter, and leave out the eggs.
MAKE THE QUINOA & CHICKEN
1. To make the quinoa:
On the stovetop: turn one burner on high. Add 2 cups of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1 cup dry quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit for 15 minutes. Read more about how to cook quinoa.
In the Instant Pot: Add 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 1 minute. Yep, 1 minute. NPR for 10 minutes, then QPR. Read about why you need an Instant Pot in general here. While that's happening...
2. Slice your 2 chicken breasts into thin strips. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sliced chicken breast and let cook until browned. Use a spatula to ensure all sides are browned. Cooking should take 5-10 minutes.
3. When the chicken is almost done, add 2 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir to coat to add extra flavor to the strips.
PREP THE MIX-INs
4. Dice 1 medium onion, 2 medium carrots, and 4 cloves minced garlic and add them to a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.
5. Sautè the veggies until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and stir (yes, I said 4. Don’t ask, just do it)
7. Add some water (less than 1/4 cup) to a microwave-safe bowl, add the 1/2 cup frozen peas and microwave on 30 seconds to soften them. Then, add the peas to the frying pan.
6. Once the quinoa is ready, add the cooked quinoa to the pan with all the veggies and stir.
7. Add 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir. These amounts are flexible and dependent on personal preferences! Add more or less if you like.
8. Add your cooked chicken strips to the pan. Continue to stir, adding more butter, sesame oil, or soy sauce as desired.
9. Meanwhile, quickly scramble two eggs in separate pan. I’ve found scrambling it all together makes the quinoa weird and congealed. Definitely scramble your eggs separately. Add these to the quinoa pan and mix to incorporate.
9. Add salt & pepper and chopped scallions to taste.
Storing & Extra Ingredients
STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
LUNCH TOMORROW - I’ve done this for meal prep for lunches for the week and it lasts very well! Be sure to eat within 5 days if you do add chicken.
EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra carrots, chicken, soy sauce, and quinoa, you’re halfway to my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce! Work on that bottle of soy sauce with my Beef & Broccoli recipe. Use up the rest of that bag of frozen peas in my favorite comfort meal: Chicken Pot Pie.