These Mediterranean quinoa bowls incorporate the flavors of falafel into an easy and healthy one-bowl meal!
It all started with falafel. A couple of weeks ago I had a serious craving for falafel and intended on making these pan-fried falafel from my book, Build-a-Bowl. While they’re easy to make (using canned chickpeas and the food processor), I needed to simplify things even further. I decided to ditch the patties and the stovetop, but keep the same flavors. Boom! These Mediterranean quinoa bowls were born. (New video below!!)
Whenever I build a one-bowl meal, I turn to my favorite formula:
whole grains + vegetables + protein + sauce = superpower meal!
Maybe because this equation makes me feel like I have a superpower, or maybe because I get to pretend that I actually like math for a second, but having this formula on hand makes mealtime much less stressful. It’s saved me on many occasion and even became the foundation for Build-a-Bowl.
For these bowls, I use quinoa as the base, but you could use any whole grain (millet and brown rice would be good gluten-free alternatives). You could even omit the grains and use cauliflower rice or sliced romaine instead. From there, I added sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, marinated chickpeas (the protein!) and an irresistible creamy tahini sauce (more on that below!). In other words, it’s all of my favorite falafel flavors, in a much faster form!
Deconstructed Falafel Bowls
Instead of making falafel patties, these Mediterranean quinoa bowls dress up chickpeas instead with the same bold flavors. To make things really easy, instead of chopping the herbs and garlic by hand, they’re blitzed up in seconds in the food processor. Half of the herbs stay in the processor for the tahini sauce, and the other half go into the chickpeas, along with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. The chickpeas soak up all the garlicky goodness (the first time I made them my little one, Juni, ate half the bowl before I knew what was happening). They get even better with time, so go ahead and make them a few hours or even days ahead.
Greet Tahini Sauce
The green tahini sauce is the gold that ties everything together. As you might know by now, I’m a sauce fanatic. A sauce has the ability to transform an ordinary meal into something truly special, and you can find a slew of easy, no-cook sauces in my book. This version is an adaptation of the tahini sauce featured in my seared halloumi bowls from my ebook (which is available for free if you sign up for my newsletter on my homepage!). As I mentioned, it incorporates parsley and cilantro (which give it its hue), along with garlic, lemon juice, tahini and water. It’s creamy and rich, but dairy free and nutritious. It lasts for a week in the fridge, and is delicious over grain bowls, pita sandwiches or salmon. Here it’s drizzled over roasted salmon and sautéed kale for a delicious superfood meal:
Mediterranean Power Bowl Tips:
- The green tahini sauce and marinated chickpeas get even better with time and can be made several days in advance! (Just beware that my four-year-old can eat an entire batch of the chickpeas on her own, so you might want to hide them.) You will need a food processor for the sauce. I use this 14-cup model.
- My lemon squeezer is one of my most favorite kitchen tools! I use lemon and lime juice often to punch up the flavors in my recipes, and a squeezer makes it sooooooo much easier to get all the juice out (without killing your hands).
- I serve these bowls over cooked quinoa, but feel free to swap out the grains for cooked cauliflower crumbles (also called cauliflower couscous) or romaine lettuce. OR, turn this into a sandwich by stuffing the chickpeas and veggies in pita bread and drizzling them with the sauce (that’s how my kids eat them).
- Get creative! You can use any veggies you have or like! Sugar snap peas, shaved carrots, spiralized zucchini, roasted butternut squash, etc. Just go for a mix of different textures.
- Check out Build-a-Bowl for a slew of other one-bowl meal recipes.
- If you love falafel, you’ve got to try these pan-fried falafel bowls.
Watch the Video!
Get the recipe!
Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce
Green Tahini Sauce and Marinated Chickpeas
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves and tender stems
- 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon cumin, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo style pepper or 2 pinches red pepper flakes, divided
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 15- ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- Diced or sliced cucumbers
- Halved grape tomatoes
- Pitted kalamata olives
- Crumbled feta cheese
Make the Green Tahini Sauce and Marinated Chickpeas
- In a food processor with the blade running, drop the garlic cloves through the feed tube to chop. Add the parsley and cilantro, and process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides once or twice. Scrape about half of the garlic-herb mixture into a bowl (this will be for the chickpeas).
Reassemble the food processor (with the remaining herbs and garlic inside), and add the tahini, 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of the Aleppo pepper (or 1 pinch red pepper flakes), 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and the honey (use maple syrup for a vegan version). Season with salt and pepper. Process until the mixture starts to clump up around the bowl. Scrape the sides. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water, adding more to thin as needed (the sauce should be creamy and spoonable). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl.
- To the bowl with the reserved garlic and herbs, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo style pepper and the olive oil. Stir in the chickpeas, and season well with salt and pepper.
Assemble the Bowls
To serve, divide the quinoa among shallow serving bowls. Top with the marinated chickpeas (drizzle any leftover vinaigrette from the bottom of the bowl over the chickpeas). Arrange the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta (if using) over top. Drizzle the bowls with the green tahini sauce, serving any remaining sauce at the table.
- The green tahini sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Bring it to room temperature before serving (it will thicken as it cools). If needed, thin with a bit of water.
- The marinated chickpeas can be refrigerated for up to five days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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