Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa

This cheesy zucchini quinoa is a great way to sneak in vegetables to a cheesy comforting dish that everyone will love.

Two to three times a week I walk up to the fish counter in my local store and the little Ecuadorian fish man starts unwrapping the salmon before I even have to say anything. Wild Alaskan King is my usual drug of choice. He places a huge piece on the cutting board, looks at me to nod when his knife is above the 3/4-1 lb. mark and I normally do walking away $13-16 poorer within a minute. It’s an efficient transaction.

Cheesy zucchini quinoa

The other day I got to the counter and a man with a shopping cart filled to the absolute brim (something kind of hard to do in this store since it’s a small, mostly just produce and fish kind of place) was in front of me. I can only assume it was 4th of July prep. As I was starring into his cart (it’s like people watching but better) I heard the fish man say the total out loud as if wanting the man’s approval before wrapping it all up…$223+. So of course I looked up to see what the heck he was buying at that price and that’s when I saw a pile of shrimp almost a foot high, each one the size of my hand. They were wild, fresh and since I’d never seen anything like them before, I figured probably a one-time deal. Out with the salmon, in with the shrimp.

Usually, I’m not bothered by shelling shrimp. I have no problem ripping off their little legs because they’re just that…little. Not so much on these guys. It actually brought me close to the verge of gagging while doing it because they were so big it felt like I was really dismantling a body, not a pathetic little bottom feeder. They were worth it though, huge, succulent and awesome on the grill because they were actually big enough not to fall through the slats.

Cheesy quinoa

What any of this has to do with cheesy zucchini quinoa is really nothing other than we ate it all together at the same dinner. With shrimp and fresh sweet corn on the grill, I needed one more thing to complete the summer trifecta. Zucchini sounded like the perfect complement.

According to facebook, most of you are quinoa or brown rice obsessed, so I went with both. Part carb, part complete protein superfood, part epitome of summer vegetable, part cheese. Holy yum.

Cheesy zucchini quinoa

Not a bad way to get your veggies in and forget about jumbo sized shrimp legs.

Yield: 4 servings

Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa

Cheesy zucchini quinoa

This cheesy zucchini quinoa is a great way to sneak in vegetables to a cheesy comforting dish that everyone will love.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup brown rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil


  1. Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once hot, add the quinoa and brown rice and toss to coat the grains.
  3. Toast for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and bay leaf, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.
  5. let cook for about 20 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
  6. Discard bay leaf and transfer to a medium bowl.
  7. Add zucchini, salt & pepper to taste, parmesan, additional chicken broth and basil.
  8. Toss together and serve.



  1. Cait's Plate

    Ahaha – I ALWAYS do that with people’s shopping carts. It’s kind of appalling to see what it’s filled with most of the time.

  2. Mai-Lis @ A Sunshiny Day

    Oooh, this looks like a good one! Follows my philosophy – if you mix a bunch of yummy things together, the end result is most likely going to be yummy!

    I’m totally a cart judger too. It usually makes me feel a little better about my own cart, sometimes if I’m embarrassed about certain unhealthy items, I hide them under healthy things. Ha, weirdo!

  3. Cassie

    I eat quinoa multiple times per week, I am sure my hubs is sick of it by now. But, he will have to suck it up so that we can try this one. I have never thought of mixing brown rice in, totally brilliant!

  4. Ashley - baker by nature

    Those shrimp sound incredible! I spent last Christmas in Australia and the shrimp there made me swoon – even the small ones where triple the size of the little runts I usually find at the store!! This zucchini/rice/quinoa creation looks like a dream boat side to any meat or fish… Or as is for a meat free meal. Yum!

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I should’ve asked the fish guy where they were from. They looked too fresh to be Australia, but who knows? Maybe?! I doubt anything that good came from the US ;)

  5. Susan

    Looks really good… I have a question…did you use parboiled brown rice? The brown rice that I use takes 45 min to an hour to cook!

    1. Gina

      Hi Susan, sorry I missed this question! I used regular brown rice (a combo of long & short grain) not parboiled. For some reason when mixed with the quinoa, it cooked quicker than normal. It usually takes me 30-35 minutes (not quite 45-hour) for brown rice but it was fully cooked in about 20 minutes this time. I actually thought it odd too, but it worked somehow. You could always cook it a bit longer if for some reason it’s not fully cooked for you in that time frame.

      1. Lisa Weaver

        Our brown rice was down right chewy (completely underdone), but the quinoa was done & we didn’t want to overdo that component. Also, I would salt and drain the shredded zucchini the next time; the final dish was pretty soupy.

  6. HealthNut Nutrition

    Haha I loved it when you said..”what this has to do with cheesy zucchini I have no idea” lol anyways this looks great, I love quinoa and use it in so many dishes. Just added some to soup the other day and it turned out great!

  7. Dulce

    AMAZING!!!! This recipe was actually my first time to try quinoa…..yummy way to start!!!! I’m a quinoa-lover now!!!!

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  9. Kim Wilson

    Tried this last night and LOVED it! It was my husband’s first quinoa experience and he raved about it. I’ve already shared the website and recipe with two co-workers and my sister. Thank you!!! Looking forward to trying a few more recipes.

  10. Pingback: Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa | Recipes for Quinoa

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