Cilantro-Lime Quinoa with Spicy Almonds


I imagine most of us let our hair down last night and ate ourselves silly. We did. I saw red and white heart-shaped cheese ravioli at Costco last week, and it practically jumped into my cart.

And then a couple of steaks flew out of the freezer, jumped in and out of a frying pan, and landed next to the ravioli. They rolled around in some homemade Alfredo sauce having the time of their lives. I think there was salad, too, but I’m not sure.

Then we shared the giant heart-shaped cookie the girls made for Steve with more sprinkles and colored sugar than any human should consume, so ya. . . it was a pretty tasty night.

And last night I felt (and looked) like I was 6 months pregnant. Hello, pasta baby!

I really want to get back to normal meals. (Holidays are nice reminders why we don’t eat like that all the time.) I’d like to throw this quinoa over a tex-mex salad to begin with.


This crunchy, flavorful quinoa is my altered version of cilantro-lime rice that’s popular at a little place called Cafe Rio. I’m sure fresh-mex restaurants have this type of rice as well.

I really like using quinoa in place of rice because it’s less starchy, and it’s a complete protein. (True!) I added some chile-lime spiced almonds and loved the crunchy bits throughout.

My oldest child didn’t feel the same way and proceeded to pick them all out. (Yet, she’ll eat them by themselves. I’ll never completely understand the strange and ever-changing 5-year-old palate.) I simply picked up her discarded almonds and threw them on my place. More for me.


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Cilantro-Lime Quinoa with Spicy Almonds

Yield: Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: About 30 minutes


For the quinoa:
2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon cumin seed (or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (one small bunch or half of a large bunch)

For the almonds:
1 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (or to taste)


Bring oil to medium-high heat in a deep saute pan or a wide pot. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic, cumin seed, salt, lime juice and zest, and quinoa. Cook for a minute or so until garlic and cumin is fragrant. Add 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil (if it isn't already), then turn the heat to medium-low and let it simmer gently for 12-15 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes or so.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the almonds. Put the almonds in a small frying pan with the chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, and a couple pinches of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently (to prevent burning) for about 5 minutes. The almonds should be hot and coated in spices. Remove from heat and let them cool off some. Chop roughly and toss the almonds and the cilantro with the quinoa before serving.

from Perry's Plate

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14 Responses to “Cilantro-Lime Quinoa with Spicy Almonds”

  1. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — February 15, 2013 @ 5:18 am

    I have a bag of quinoa and a jar of coconut oil with this recipe’s name on it!!


  2. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — February 15, 2013 @ 6:10 am

    Saving this for a lunch next week. I’m a fool for quinoa and I love these flavors!


  3. #
    Sarah — February 15, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    Ooooh yum! I love when you make things and i already have all ingredients handy!


  4. #
    Kristen — February 15, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

    Such gorgeous pictures and flavors!


  5. #
    Kerri — February 15, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

    This looks yummy – no lime in the Cilantro-Lime Quinoa though? ;)


    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 15th, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

      Uh, what are you talking about, Kerri? *ahem* (lightning-speed editing)
      p.s. Thx for catching that!!

  6. #
    Joanne — February 15, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    Every time I overconsume sugar and refined flour, I remember why I don’t do it very often…the hangover is the worst! back to basics and awesomeness with this quinoa!


  7. #
    Lucy — February 19, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    I’m making this right now, but notice that there is no instruction (that I can find) on when to add the cilantro. Should I just add it once everything is done cooking?


    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 19th, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

      Lucy, I’m sorry! Someone let me know the same thing earlier today, and I fixed it. The cilantro is added at the very end with the almonds.

  8. #
    Jenny Friden — February 19, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

    Do you think this would be worth making without the almonds? We love quinoa but Zac can’t have nuts. This looks yummy!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 20th, 2013 @ 8:41 am

      Yes! Make it anyway. The first few times I made it, I didn’t add nuts. The nuts were kind of a last minute thing that I thought added a lot to it, but it’s not necessary. It’s good without them.

  9. #
    Christy Stephensen — February 23, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    I’m putting this recipe in my list for our vegan month. Super excited to try it :D


  10. #
    Alyssa | Queen of Quinoa — March 22, 2013 @ 5:28 am

    This recipe looks amazing! I love that spiced almonds. A perfect Meatless Monday meal :) Can’t wait to give it a try!

    I would love for you to share this recipe on this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Quinoa, the bi-weekly link party that celebrates all things quinoa. I know our readers will fall in love with this recipe just as I have!

    Happy Friday!



  11. #
    Justine@cookingandbeer — March 22, 2013 @ 8:19 am

    What a great use of quinoa! Looks amazing! I’m thinking picnic side dish.


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