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Gluten-free Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa is an easy side dish that’s packed with protein and crowd-pleasing flavors.

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats | iowagirleats.com

Oh my gosh I am so tired!

Not because of this monkey, whose 6 month pictures I finally got around to taking, uh, a week before he turned 7 months old (better late than never?!)


Our little prince is snoozing just fine. Mom and Dad, however, are willingly keeping themselves up at night to feed their Breaking Bad addiction. Have you seen it? AMC? Bueller?

I heard all about how awesome this show was during its 5 year run but resisted tuning in because, I don’t know… Well actually I do know – it’s about meth! I’m sure my Dad is having a heart attack reading this, what with me mentioning illicit drugs so close to his youngest grandson’s picture, but, well, this is happening.

Anyway, Ben’s the finder of all good shows that I resist watching then end up proclaiming my new favorite thing EVER! The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Girls (which I got so hooked on that I cheated and watched a full season without him in like, a day. I know.) and now, Breaking Bad. He’d been trying to get me to watch on Netflix for months and I finally caved. Wished I hadn’t waited so long!

The acting is incredible. You hate the people you should love and love the people you should hate…I can’t get enough! We’ve watched two seasons in nearly as many weeks, and are still going strong. I need an intervention! Or a book…

There’s no point to this story except to tell you that Breaking Bad is really good, and I don’t have an exciting nor relevant story to lead into a side dish I want to share with you today, mmkay? Are you still reading? Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa? Bueller? When will people stop understanding what Bueller means?

This is the last time I drink Starbucks in the afternoon!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats | iowagirleats.com

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa is the answer to your what to serve with dinner prayers. This dish takes 5 minutes to prep, cooks for 15 more minutes, then is ready to serve. Perfectly garlicky, creamy, and parmesan-y. Plus quinoa is packed with protein so it’s a side dish with staying power!


This dish isn’t a direct rip-off of those pasta side packets I like to makeover, like Creamy Garlic Shells and Creamy Chicken Pasta, as none of them use quinoa, but my gosh is it good.

Quinoa is quickly toasted in garlic-infused oil then cooked in chicken broth before being combined with salty parmesan cheese. Fast. Quick. Flavorful. Try this!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats | iowagirleats.com

You’ll only need 5 kitchen staples to whip up Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa: Quinoa, of course, chicken broth, garlic, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Yes!


Start by rinsing 1 cup quinoa under cold running water in a fine mesh sieve. I got this one at my grocery store for like $2.99. Oh, and I also got the measuring cups from Target on clearance recently. They’re from Giada di Laurentiis’ line and I just love them! A couple people asked the last time I showed them so I thought I’d share.


Let the quinoa drain while you heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 3 cloves minced garlic. I bought a garlic press from IKEA the last time I was there and I swear to you it was the best $3 I have ever spent. I usually loathe unitaskers in the kitchen, but I’m making a hearty exception for the garlic press.

Let the garlic saute for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring constantly, until it’s light golden brown. It will go from golden brown to burnt very quickly, so keep an eye on it.


Add the drained quinoa then stir for 1 minute to let it lightly toast, and then add 1-3/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth (or vegetable broth.) Turn the heat up to bring to a boil then place a lid on top, turn the heat back down to medium-low, and then cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

By the way, a lot of people ask me how to avoid mushy quinoa and the answer is, you want the ratio of quinoa to liquid to be around 1:1.75. Or however you would write that. Point being, you want less than double the amount of liquid to quinoa!


Finally, stir in 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese. That’s it!


Let the quinoa cool for 10 minutes before serving so you really get the parmesan-garlic flavor to come through, vs singeing the bejeebers out of your tongue. As with most things in life, it’s worth the wait!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats | iowagirleats.com

Gluten-free Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa


Gluten-free Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa is an easy side dish that's packed with protein and crowd-pleasing flavors.


serves 4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1-3/4 cups gluten-free chicken broth (could use vegetable broth)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Rinse quinoa very well under cold running water in a fine mesh sieve then drain well and set aside.
  2. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat then add garlic and saute until barely golden brown, stirring constantly (watch closely as it can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly!) Add quinoa then toast for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth then turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then turn heat down to medium-low and cook until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats | iowagirleats.com

I served my Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa with chicken breasts marinated in BBQ sauce then sauteed (OH how I wish they were grilled instead…soon!) and steamed broccoli. Whatever you choose to pair it with…enjoy!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats | iowagirleats.com