Mixed Vegetable and Quinoa Stew aka “Fridge Cleanout Stew”

[Soup Photo]Hi everyone!  We are giving you a little change of pace today, another voice in the blog.  My name is Erin; I’m Matt’s wife.  I too am an avid runner and new pescetarian.  And I’ve also recently gotten into road biking.  I typically get to reap the benefits of Matt’s delicious cooking, but truth be told, a lot of our meal planning and cooking as of late have been done together.  This past Saturday though, I was left alone in the kitchen to make something out of what I presumed was nothing!  We were desperate to find something to eat for lunch because it was pouring outside and neither Matt nor I wanted to venture out into the monsoon.  On cold and rainy days, soups seem to be appealing so I challenged myself to create a soup or stew (it ended up being more like a stew because I let the liquid reduce to a less than soup-like consistency) out of the random ingredients that I had in my kitchen.  On top of this I chose to cook with an ingredient that was new to me– quinoa!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinoa (like me), it is a grain that has great nutritional value!  (UPDATE- It turns out that quinoa is not actually a grain; it’s a grain-like “pseudocereal” because it’s not a type of grass.) Not only is it high in protein, but it’s a complete protein source because it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids.  There are many different ways to prepare quinoa; it can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in baking.  We had picked it up previously at the health food store and I decided that this meal was worth testing it out on!  After all, I was determined to use as much of my random leftover ingredients as I could.

I have to be honest; I much prefer to follow a strict recipe, and I am not the best at coming up with my own creations.  I, like many people out there, don’t always know what spices or ingredients to combine to create the perfect taste sensation.  I was very happy to learn, though, that rather than throwing the random leftover veggies into the compost, I could, without much work, create a tasty stew for us to enjoy.  It was pretty quick and easy and was very pleasing to our palates.  And the biggest accomplishment was that we were able to stay inside and avoid the monsoon!  So for all of you at home, I would suggest trying this recipe when you are left with a variety of fresh veggies.  Don’t let them go to waste; be creative!  For example, you could substitute celery for the chinese cabbage, fresh tomatoes for canned,  or rice for the quinoa.  As I was making it, I thought that it might even be good with some chipotles in adobo!  Sometimes a little kick is nice (for me though, moderation is best).  Try serving it with a nice whole-wheat bread to soak up some of the juices!  It’s yummy.  It was great as leftovers too!

Quinoa and Vegetable Stew Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 8 canned whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 4  tablespoons tomato sauce (from the can with the tomatoes)
  • 1-1/2 cups chinese cabbage, sliced
  • 8 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 shakes of Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat.  Stir in the quinoa, carrot, onion, bell pepper, cauliflower, and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Pour in the stock, water, tomatoes and sauce, cabbage, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, basil, and spinach.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the quinoa and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with parsley before serving.  Also don’t forget to remove the bay leaves!

Serves 5-6.



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  1. Quinoa is one of my favorite ingredients – and just because it looks like, tastes (sorta) like, and cooks like a grain doesn’t mean that it actually is a grain (it doesn’t come from grass.)

    I especially like making a salad with it and stuffing peppers, although it can be used in just about any recipe that you could use rice or noodles with. Much better for you, too, and since I can get it in bulk with the sapponin already rinsed off it’s quick to prepare for us (not that rinsing takes that long, it’s just another step.)

    • Thanks for pointing out that quinoa isn’t technically a grain. I’ve updated the post to correct the mistake. We are making quinoa-stuffed acorn squash later in the week, should be interesting. Where do you get it pre-rinsed?

  2. Erin – nice post!! I enjoyed the change of pace:) You guys do a great job making it a team effort:)

  3. christine says:

    Nice work Erin! Greg and I laughed at the title of this recipe because once a week we have “leftover soup.” Pretty close!

    Do you notice a difference using whole canned tomatoes and then chopping them versus canned chopped tomatoes?

    Also, after I read the mexican bean wrap post, I got a hot sauce made from just chipotles. It’s a Mexican brand called bufalo that I found at the Shoppers. It has a nice hot smoky flavor without the burn and it’s always convenient to splash on. Keep your eyes peeled for it because it’s really yummy.

    • Hey Chris! I think it is a great idea to have a “leftover soup”. It helps so that you don’t waste anything! I havent really noticed much of a difference between canned chopped and whole canned tomatoes. For this recipe I just went with what we had available and the whole peeled were so soft that they were chopped in seconds! Also that hot sauce sounds great! I like the smoky flavor you get out of chipotles. The burn with other spicy things is what I can’t handle too much of:) I will have to check it out!

  4. That’s my delightful DIL!

  5. Thanks FIL:) Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. What does quinoa taste like? And how do you cook it- how long does it take? Gosh! I wish I had someone to cook these meals for me. They make me hungry!

  7. Michelle says:

    Hey guys! I just made this for dinner last night (with a little variation on the veg) for a loved one, who happens to be a hard core meat-atarian and athlete. He loved it! This morning, he expressed his dumdfoundedness that the meal was so satisfying to his system by asking, “How did you DO that? I mean, it was all vegetables!” He then continued to say that he thinks he is being seduced by this delicious vegetarian food. What a hoot! Thanks for the fab website!!!

  8. Monica carten says:

    Hi Erin,

    Thanks for great recipes! Made double batch in slow cooker with kale. Used potatoes in place of cauliflower as my husband likes so much! This was fabulous!!

  9. Susan Windham says:

    This dish is delicious. I would like to make a couple of comments: 1. Quinoa needs to be rinsed and soaked a bit before cooking; 2. We cooked it for over 30 minutes rather than the 10 suggested as it wasn’t close to being done in that amount of time. We are having seconds for dinner tonight!

  10. Brandon says:

    I’m grateful for your website! My wife and I are slowly moving to becoming Vegan (purely from a dietary standpoint) and this was the first recipe we made from your site. I made it exactly as you have it listed, for simplicity, but next time I’ll mix it up a bit and maybe try some potatoes in it too! The recipe as you’ve written it was delicious. I made it two nights in a row and froze the second batch in containers for quick take to work meals.

  11. Do you really mean 8 cans of tomatoes? Also, do you mean cooked or uncooked quinoa?

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