Saffron Quinoa Bowl

A vegetarian bowl with grains and protein perfect for suppertime.

city style and living magazine saffron quinoa bowl
/ Courtesy Nicole Franzen

A vegetarian bowl with grains and protein perfect for suppertime.


  1. Roast the chickpeas
  2. Cook the quinoa
  3. Cook the vegetables
  4. Make the gremolata
  5. Poach the eggs (if using)
  6. Assemble the bowls

Spiced roasted chickpeas
One 14 ½-oz [415-g] can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 13⁄4 cups [420 g] drained home-cooked chickpeas
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground coriander (optional)
⅛ tsp ground cumin (optional)
⅛ tsp ground turmeric (optional)
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Saffron quinoa
2 cups [480 ml] chicken or vegetable broth
¼ tsp saffron threads
1 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1 cup [180 g] quinoa, rinsed

Moroccan-spiced root vegetables
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 small-to-medium turnip
1 yellow beet or rutabaga
1 small celery root
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ras el hanout (North African spice mix)
1 fresh red hot chile, chopped, or 2 small dried hot chiles, such as árbol (optional)
3 cups [720 ml] chicken or vegetable broth

Preserved lemon gremolata
Leaves from 8 fresh mint sprigs
Leaves from 10 large fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
Rind from 1⁄2 preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 eggs, poached (page 26), optional
4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
Harissa or other hot sauce for serving

FOR THE CHICKPEAS: Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pat the chickpeas dry on several layers of paper towels. Put the chickpeas in a bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle on the salt and the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, if using. Toss to coat the chickpeas evenly. Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the chickpeas until browned and a bit crispy, about 45 minutes. While the chickpeas are roasting, cook the quinoa and the vegetables.

FOR THE QUINOA: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to a simmer, sprinkle in the saffron, and remove from the heat. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and stir to coat evenly with the butter. Pour in the warm saffron broth, bring to a simmer, cover, turn the heat to low, and cook, undisturbed, until the quinoa is tender and fluffy and the broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and re-cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

FOR THE ROOT VEGETABLES: Peel the carrot, parsnip, turnip, beet, and celery root and cut into small bite-size pieces, though keeping them all about the same size is more important than the actual size. In a large sauté pan or frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the onion and 1⁄2 tsp salt and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the ras el hanout and chile (if using) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the broth, add the chopped vegetables, and bring to boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

FOR THE GREMOLATA: On a cutting board, finely chop the mint and parsley. Add the preserved lemon and garlic and continue chopping until all of the ingredients are minced and blended together. Transfer to a small bowl, add the pepper and olive oil, and stir to combine. Season with salt.

TO ASSEMBLE: Divide the quinoa among four bowls. Top the quinoa with the root vegetables (transfer them with a slotted spoon or add some of the flavorful broth to the bowl). Add the chickpeas to one side and a poached egg, if desired, to the other. Put a hefty dollop of gremolata on top. Pass the harissa and dates at the table, for everyone to add to taste.

MAKE IT EASY: Skip the gremolata. It’s delicious, but this bowl has lots of flavor without it. You can also use other root vegetable combinations (4 to 5 small-to-medium specimens) that you may have on hand (or appeal to you more), including mixes with potatoes and/or sweet potatoes.

BOWLS! Reprinted from Bowls! Recipes and Inspirations for Healthful One-Dish Meals by Molly Watson (Chronicle Books). Photographs by Nicole Franzen.

This original article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.

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