Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese

Quinoa served with sauce of fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fresh farmer's cheese.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

While quinoa became popular in North America only recently, in South America where it’s from, this grain-like seed has been cultivated for thousands of years.

When it comes to cooking quinoa, and all of the delicious ways it can be used, we have a lot of catching up to do!

Quinoa is high in protein and completely gluten-free. You can make a pilaf with it, or use it for stuffing, or just eat it plain.

I stumbled upon a recipe for “Quinoa con Queso”, or quinoa with fresh farmers cheese, in this book, and have since found many other variations online.

As I played around and experimented with this recipe I had two revelations. The first is that quinoa tastes great with milk poured over it. Which is why it works great as a breakfast cereal.

The second revelation is quinoa tastes great with cheese (queso)!

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese

Quinoa with Tomatoes, Cheese, and Poblano Chiles

Here we are using queso fresco, a Mexican fresh farmers cheese, but you could also use Cotija, feta, or mozzarella.

You can keep it simple with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cheese, or dress it up with zucchini, roasted chiles, or potatoes.

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4

If you want, you can add more vegetables up front to this dish, for example, sauté some chopped zucchini along with the onions. And/or serve with new potatoes, either chopped and mixed in (cooked of course), or served alongside.


  • 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 large fresh tomato, cored, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped large green chile, either Anaheim or Poblano (optional)*
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, finely chopped)
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) fresh farmer's cheese, or queso fresco, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup milk
  • Fresh basil, cilantro, or chives for garnish (optional)

*See How to roast chile peppers over a gas flame.


1 Cook the quinoa: Put 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

2 Prepare the sauce: While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil and butter in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and cook for a couple minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute more.

Add the chopped tomato, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, dried oregano, and tomato paste. Add chopped green chiles (cooked) if using. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Stir until well combined.

Let cook until the tomatoes have cooked through and the sauce has cooked down a bit. Then stir in the cheese. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.

3 Stir in milk and top with sauce: Stir 1 cup of milk into the now cooked quinoa. Serve the quinoa in bowls and top with sauce.

Garnish with chopped basil, parsley, cilantro, or chives.

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Showing 4 of 25 Comments

  • Marianne DeMartini

    I love quinoa, this looks delicious! Have to try it tonight. Thanks for using my little bowl in your beautiful picture, Elise!

    Oh yes, readers take note! This beautiful dish is the handcrafted work of Marianne DeMartini. You can see her work on her Etsy site. ~Elise

  • Brian

    This sounds great. Quinoa is a little pricier, but what I love about it is the nutty flavor, as you said, especially if you toast it in a bit of butter and olive oil first, and even better, it’s so forgiving. To anyone who ever had difficulty making rice, I’d say try making quinoa first. It’s how I perfected my rice technique, not to mention that quinoa is so healthy and delicious.

  • Carina

    I love quinoa with bleu cheese. I mix sauteed mushrooms, chopped apple and bleu cheese (along with a bit of sage) into cooked quinoa, then use it as a stuffing for roasted acorn squash. It’s a lovely blend of sweet and savory.

  • Natalie

    The flavors were really good, and the cheese complimented them so well that I will double the quantity of it next time. Way too much milk though. Adding the full cup of milk to the cooked quinoa just made for quinoa soup. I cooked it an extra 5 minutes to reduce it and served it with a slotted spoon to drain the excess. By the time I went back for a second serving most of the rest of the milk had absorbed, so maybe it just needs to sit for a bit, but I would still use a half cup less milk. Overall a tasty, filling, vegetarian meal!

    That’s weird. I have no problem with the milk. It all gets absorbed when I’ve made it. Maybe it does just need to sit a little longer. ~Elise

  • Michelle

    My boyfriend and I had a similar dish when we were SoBo hiking on the Long Trail in VT two summers back. We stopped at a hostel and they served us quinoa with a salsa fresca and small chunks of goat cheese. Such awesome memories this dish brings. Thank you! :)

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