From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of August 5, 2013
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Quinoa with Cauliflower and Broccoli

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

One-pot dishes loaded with earthy garden flavor are not only delicious and convenient, but nutritious as well. This recipe delivers all of that.

The cauliflower and broccoli provide excellent nutritional quality and add to the pleasant consistency of the dish. Cauliflower and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables, which contain cancer protective glucosinolates such as indoles and isothiocyanantes. These cruciferous vegetables with their four petal flowers in the shape of a cross or crucifer, hence their name, are also good sources of vitamin C and the B vitamin folate. The bell peppers also add their own nourishing goodness of vitamin C and a splash of color.

The fresh thyme provides a traditional Mediterranean flavor. Its reputation as a healer and protector goes back thousands of years. In fact, during the Roman times, it was thought that eating thyme during a meal would protect one from poison. No wonder it was a favorite of emperors. Times have changed, of course, but thyme is still a superstar of herbs.

Oregano, whose name actually is derived from the Greek phrase "joy of the mountains," was used by Hippocrates as an antiseptic. The ancient Greek physician, who is considered the father of modern medicine, must have realized it had nutritional value. Today we know oregano has antioxidants. Most people, though, treasure oregano for its taste.

Add all of the above to quinoa (KEEN-wah) and the result is a delicious and healthy dish. Actually a seed and native to South America, quinoa is cooked like a grain. Quinoa contains all essential amino acids in higher amounts compared to other grains, making it a good source of protein. An alternative for rice in many dishes, quinoa comes in a variety of colors – cream, red, purple, orange, green, and black.

Sauté the vegetables until they just start to soften so you don’t overcook them. That way, the vegetables’ tender-crisp texture pairs well with the consistency of the quinoa.

You can serve this dish by itself as a light meal, but for a more substantial repast you can add a portion of roasted chicken. Or add a cucumber salad. Simply dice fresh cucumbers and thinly slice some onions. Add a few tomato wedges and top with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Just like that, lunch or dinner is served.

Quinoa and Broccoli

Quinoa with Cauliflower and Broccoli

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 cup chopped onion, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped medium (1 tsp. dried may be substituted)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped medium (1 tsp. dried may be substituted)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, 1/2 cup onion and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Stir in herbs and sauté 2 minutes. Remove from stovetop and set aside.

In strainer, place quinoa and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Using your hand, swish quinoa under running water for 2 minutes to remove bitter natural coating. Drain and set aside.

In medium saucepan, heat remaining teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion. Sauté about 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth and quinoa. Increase heat to bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.

Gently stir in vegetable mixture and combine well with quinoa. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 120 calories, 3.5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrate,
5 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 50 mg sodium.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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