If you take anything from this recipe, I ask that you please begin cooking your quinoa in coconut water. And, if you are inspired to learn more, might I suggest that you buy whole coconuts for your next dinner party and stun the pants off your guests with this beautiful presentation of coconut quinoa with basil, spinach and caramelized onions.
To the basic element of this recipe and what will change the way you taste quinoa forever: replace water with coconut water in the 2:1 cooking ratio of liquid to seed (because technically quinoa is a seed not a grain). Since the coconut water naturally sweetens the quinoa, most times there is no need to add anything more than fresh vegetables and herbs to complete a meal (if you need encouragement, just look at the quinoa bowl below the recipe!)
But, in this particular dish, I love to heighten the flavors by adding ingredients that make it unforgettable. First, I add caramelized onions. But, rather than laboring over the stove for an eternity, I use a “quick” method to caramelize the onions. This approach begins by cooking the onions in oil for 5 minutes, and then simply speeds up the natural sweetening process by adding vinegar and sugar.
At this point, take a moment and remember why you are cooking this dish…for the compliments of course! No truly, this dish is as stunning as it is good for you. And, the assembly finishes in less than 5 minutes by simply adding the fresh spinach and basil to the quinoa-onion mixture and garnishing it with black sesame seeds and toasted coconut. In less than 30 minutes, you will have just curated a show-stopping dish that is not only pleasing to the palate but to anyone’s hungry eyes.
- 2 C Pure Coconut Water
- 1 C Pre-washed Quinoa
- ¼ t Salt
- 2 t Sesame Oil
- ½ C Sweet Vidalia Onion, thinly sliced (approx. ½ medium-sized onion)
- ¼ t Salt
- ¼ t Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- ½ T Rice Wine Vinegar
- ½ T Coconut Palm Sugar (or ½ T Brown Sugar)
- 1½ C Baby Spinach, chopped
- ¼ C Fresh Basil, finely chopped
- 1 T Black Sesame Seeds
- ⅓ C Sweetened, Toasted Coconut
- Lime Wedges (optional for serving)
- Lightly Salted Peanuts (optional for serving)
- Sriracha (optional for serving)
- In a saucepan, bring the coconut water, quinoa, and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the quinoa finish cooking off the heat for an additional 5 minutes. Uncover, and allow it to cool slightly, approximately 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat 2 minutes, then add the onions, salt and black pepper, stirring to coat the onions in the oil. Continue cooking the seasoned onions for 5 minutes, stirring often. Then, add the rice wine vinegar and sugar to the pan and cook 3 additional minutes, again stirring often.
- Transfer the caramelized onions to the cooled quinoa, along with the baby spinach and fresh basil. Toss to combine, and serve topped with the black sesame seeds and toasted coconut.
- If you serve this dish buffet-style, I love offering a bowl of lime wedges, lightly salted peanuts and srirachas for guests to garnish the dish as they please.
I often use this dish as a building block for an AMAZING quinoa bowl; simply add avocado, honey roasted peanuts, sprouts and sriracha. Just look at the picture below!