Vegan Italian Cheesy Quinoa

I love Vegan Italian dishes that remind me of my childhood. The homemade macadamia cheese is chock full of healthy fats while the quinoa provides excellent plant-based protein. Tasty!

I'm Italian. I love Italian food. I love cheese. But since going vegan, I stay away from the stuff. Non-dairy cheeses (like soy and rice) can be a fun occasional treat, but since they're so processed I try to avoid them.

So when I whipped up this delicious dish without any processed cheeses, I happily slunk down into a purely blissful state and promptly chowed down.

It all started when I woke up with a strong desire for quinoa. Do you ever have quinoa for breakfast? It's a healthy and yummy option to oatmeal.

I also happened to have a strong desire for non-traditional breakfast flavors. So I opened my fridge and peered inside. What did I have on hand that would help me get breakfast on the table in a relatively short time?

There was a 1/2 bottle of organic marinara (I love Seeds of Change organic marinara). Some leftover raw vegan ricotta-type cheese made with macadamia nuts I made the day before for another dish. Hmmmmm, my breakfast was beginning to form.

This dish is just a cinch to whip up if you have the macadamia ricotta cheese on hand. And if you don't, it will just take an extra 30 minutes to soak the macadamias to release their nutrients and soften them enough to easily process.

Even if you have non-dairy cheese in your fridge, give this raw macadamia ricotta cheese a try. Although the results are NOTHING like ooey-gooey cheese, the rich cheesy flavor is there in spades.

Macadamias are a nut with one of the highest percentages of monosaturated fats, which (like Olive Oil) is some of the best fats you can eat because it helps to actually lower your cholesterol levels (when you eat a balanced diet). Combine this with the high amounts of vegan protein found in quinoa, and you have one healthy dish in your hot little hands.

Vegan Cheesy Italian Quinoa
Serves 1-2

Macadamia Ricotta Cheese
1 cup organic quinoa
Vegetable broth
1-2 Tablespoons marinara

1. Make the Raw Vegan Macadamia "Ricotta" Cheese: (This recipe will make more than you need for the recipe. Simply store the rest in a covered container in the fridge and use in 3 days...if it sticks around that long!)

Place 1 cup organic macadamia nuts in a small bowl with enough hot water to cover. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

Place soaked and drained macadamias into a food processor with:

1/2 cup dry macadamias
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
5 Tablespoons water, as necessary

Process until completely smooth.

2. Make the quinoa: In a large DRY pan heat 1 cup quinoa, stirring often, until lightly toasted. (Do not burn!) Add double the amount of veggie broth (can also use water and one veggie bouillon cube). Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until broth is absorbed and quinoa is cooked -- filaments will be visible and quinoa will be al dente (softened yet with a bite). If quinoa is cooked but the broth hasn't been completely absorbed, simply pour off some of the broth, if desired.

3. Add 2-3 Tablespoons Macadamia Ricotta and combine thoroughly. Add 1-2 Tablespoons marinara, or to taste, and stir to combine.

Recipe can be doubled. Follow the same instructions for making your quinoa -- measure out quinoa and add double the amount of veggie broth.

For breakfast, lunch, dinner -- anytime you need a cheesy Italian fix!   :)

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