This zesty cilantro lime quinoa side dish is perfect to pair with any main course. It’s loaded with tangy lime juice and fresh cilantro. Who wants plain quinoa when you can have flavor loaded quinoa?! Vegan & gluten-free.
This cilantro lime quinoa side dish recipe actually came to be because I had a bunch of cilantro that got pushed to the back of the fridge and when I found it, it was on its last leg.
I hate food waste more than anything so I just couldn’t bear to throw it away because it was pretty wilted and limp. Just because I couldn’t use it as a garnish didn’t mean that it couldn’t be used in another way.
Note – I did pull out a few leaves that were brown. Do not make this cilantro lime sauce with cilantro that is wet or slimy. That means it has gone bad and you can’t salvage it. You don’t want to risk getting sick by trying to save a few bucks.
How Do You Make Quinoa Taste Good?
I see people ask this question all the time in vegan Facebook groups and it always confuses me! Quinoa is so delicious and so versatile. How can you not like it or think it tastes bad? The only answers that I could come up with are that 1) Maybe they aren’t rinsing the quinoa before they cook it*, or 2) They just want flavor in their quinoa. If that’s you, then this cilantro lime quinoa side dish is for you! It’s loaded with flavor!
*Some packaged quinoa needs to be rinsed first before you cook it. If you don’t rinse it before you cook it then it will taste very bitter. I use the organic quinoa from Costco (Here’s my vegan Costco shopping list if you need inspiration) and it’s pre-rinsed so I never have to worry about that. It’s very convenient.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Quinoa
The cilantro lime sauce for this savory quinoa side dish is so easy to make! All you have to do is blend a bunch of fresh cilantro (2 cups) with garlic, lime juice, lime zest, water, sea salt, and pepper together until it’s smooth and creamy. Pour the cilantro lime sauce over the cooked quinoa and mix it well. That’s it! You can make this a hot or cold quinoa side dish if you wish. I’ve done both and it’s very tasty, hot or cold.
The flavor of this cilantro lime quinoa side dish is through the roof, you’ll never want plain quinoa again! The zest and juice from the lime give it that tangy citrus flavor that I adore. Travis and I are both huge cilantro lovers so using an entire bunch of cilantro in the sauce didn’t phase us one bit. It gave the quinoa side dish huge flavor and a striking green color!
BTW If you’re one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap– this recipe is not for you! Try these delicious Pesto Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes instead.
What Can Be Mixed With Quinoa?
Whenever I cook quinoa at home, it’s very rare that I don’t season it. We barely ever eat plain cooked quinoa because you can mix so many flavors into it. Who wants to eat boring plain quinoa when it can be loaded with flavor? Some of our favorite flavor combos are pesto quinoa, lemon turmeric ginger Mexican-inspired quinoa, and Thai curry quinoa.
You have two options to flavor your quinoa:
- You can add the dry seasonings to the water while the quinoa is cooking. That’s how I make the Mexican quinoa. Add a 1/4 tsp of each of the following: cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder to the water (mix well!) with the uncooked quinoa and let it cook together.
- You can make a cilantro lime or pesto sauce and mix it into the cooked quinoa.
Both options work well and you can eat them as is or you can ramp it up even more and make this quinoa side dish with vegetables too! There are so many options that there is no reason to eat plain quinoa unless you really want to. I’ve even added a big scoop of pesto quinoa to a bowl of red pepper soup and it was deeelish!
What Should I Serve With Quinoa?
I served this vegan quinoa side dish with our favorite vegan lentil sloppy joe’s for dinner and it was a hit! The cilantro lime flavors paired really well with the tangy tomato-based lentil sloppy joe’s.
This quinoa side dish also pairs well with:
More Vegan Quinoa Recipes You’ll Love
Cilantro Lime Quinoa Side Dish
- 2 cups dry quinoa (Make sure you rinse it if the package instructions say to do so)
- Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Make sure to rinse it if the instructions say to do so. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork.
- Add all cilantro lime sauce ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend it on high until smooth and creamy.
- Mix the cilantro lime sauce with the cooked quinoa (You can do this with hot or cold quinoa).