California Quinoa Recipe (Vegan, Gluten-free)


Yum, it’s tomato season! I’m putting them in everything, which is what inspired this crazy delicious California Quinoa. Fast, easy, and flavorful with fresh herbs and avocado, be sure to use a zippy, high quality red wine vinegar for your marinade. Let’s talk more about that…

Is All Red Wine Vinegar the Same?

That’s like asking is all red wine the same. Wine, after all, turns to vinegar if it over ferments and sits too long. Basically, oxygen metabolizes the ethyl alcohol in wine and converts it into the acetic acid. The acid gives vinegar its sharp pungent flavor. There are two different processes that can be used to ferment the vinegar, and each produces a slightly different acidity level.

Is it worth it to pay more for a red wine vinegar? Does more expensive change the quality? The taste?

Like wine, like anything, I think it’s worth it to pay for what you like. If you love Yellowtail, then that’s a good buy for you. If you melt over a $90 Barolo, then that’s worth it to you. It comes down to your taste. When it comes to choosing a red wine vinegar I think it’s no different.

Recommended Brands of Red Wine Vinegar

If you tend to look for the cheapest, bargain buy, critics say that Pompeian is the best quality for the lowest price. When it comes to best taste, after extensive tasting, most agree to look for a blend of grapes, as found in a high end brand like, O Zinfandel.

My favorite, Cardena’s Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar is a pricey treat. It has a sweetness along with the tartness that I have never tasted in a red wine vinegar. It’s amazing on my Grandmom’s Italian String Bean Recipe.

As always, it comes down to your taste. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to liking the brand you like. Just know, all red wine vinegar is not the same. So, if you think you don’t like red wine vinegar, maybe you just haven’t tasted the one for you yet. 🙂

California Quinoa Recipe

Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Vegan

California Quinoa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 8
  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water less 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • large pinch sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • One ripe avocado, chopped
  • One ripe tomato, chopped
  • Additional salt and pepper to your taste
  • ½-3/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup high quality red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • sea salt to taste
Ahead of Time
  1. Rinse quinoa.
Cook the Quinoa
  1. Bring the water and red wine vinegar to a boil.
  2. Add the pinch of sea salt and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the rinsed quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook covered for 16-18 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
  5. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes covered. Remove cover and fluff with a fork.
Make Marinade
  1. Put all marinade ingredients in a high powered blender and whiz until combined.
Gently Toss
  1. Gently toss all quinoa and about 1 cup of the Red Wine Vinegar Marinade.
  2. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Chop your avocado and tomato and add to your room temperature quinoa. If quinoa is too warm avocado may brown and tomato may get too soft.
  4. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Lightly stir and serve.
  1. You can make this in advance and store this salad for 5-7 days in the fridge. Just let come to room temperature, toss and adjust seasoning if needed before serving.

Never Made Quinoa Before?

No worries. Cook quinoa with me. Or Check out the perfect quinoa simmer.

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