Quinoa Taco “Meat”

This recipe was inspired by a recent trip to Chaia, a restaurant with the best tacos I’ve ever eaten. If you’re even in D.C., it’s an essential stop. They rotate filling variations seasonally and you can observe the making of fresh corn tortillas while you wait in line!

When visiting the restaurant last weekend with my boyfriend, I pondered why I never make tacos for myself. They are the perfect “party” food, with multiple flavor options that are easily customizable for individual palates.

In this recipe, quinoa makes a great meat stand-in. It is a “complete” protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. It’s technically not a grain but a seed (so also friendly for those living gluten-free lifestyles).

Quinoa is also a great source of several minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate, iron, magnesium and zinc. Whew! If you’ve never tried it, this recipe is a perfect starting point.

Recipe yield three cups and is inspired by Minimalist Baker. Be sure to tag @garlichead if you post a picture on Instagram; I love seeing your creations!

Quinoa is more like “quin-WOW,” am I right?


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (any variety)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salsa (any variety)
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A little salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 TBS olive oil


  1. Toast quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium heat for four minutes, stirring consistently. Add water and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover saucepan. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork and let rest for 10 minutes or so.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Add cooked quinoa to a bowl with all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread out into thin layer on lightly oiled baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring at the 15 minute mark to prevent burning.
  6. Serve in taco shells or on top of salad! Great additions include: sautéed peppers and onions, spinach, corn, black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.