Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic ‘Butter’

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

This recipe may win the prize for the simplest one on this site so far. It is simply steamed veggies with quinoa and melted coconut oil with garlic. Maybe this is why it took so long to make it onto the blog, I don’t know, do you really need a recipe for this? But then someone pointed out to me it’s not always about the recipe but the inspiration to make something. So I hope this inspires you, it really is worth the effort.

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

I have to admit, this isn’t something I make for us very often. I guess it’s humble enough to forget about by grocery list/dinner-making time. It’s inspired by a stall at the Granville Island Food Court that always sold salad rolls that my sisters and I would get for lunch when we were little (to go with our donut holes and pizza pretzels).

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

I learned later in life (when my husband ordered it) that they also have these awesome steamed veggie bowls. They have set it up like Subway; you choose your rice type (brown or white), pick from their array of steamed veggies on display and then choose your sauce. My husband always gets garlic butter and I get spicy soy. And its simplicity is so great, you have a nice warm, healthy lunch with lots of veggies and if you don’t go and get a bag of donut holes afterward, you’re doing pretty well.

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

Making this at home is a good way to clean up the veggie odds and ends from your fridge. It is also a great way to welcome back all of the spring produce at the farmers markets and buy whatever you want without distinct meal plans (I hate planning). Always wanted to try kohlrabi? It would be great in here. Cute little Thumbelina carrots? Those too. Squash blossoms? Yup. And it is all displayed beautifully atop the quinoa, making this a potentially stunning meal.

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

I used a layered bamboo steamer but any steamer would work. Just make sure to start with the denser, slower cooking veg (root veggies/squash) and add the less dense (broccoli/cauliflower) later and then the greens (or squash blossoms!) at the very end. Or steam them separately like we did in this bamboo steamer (or take turns with them using a regular steamer).

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

This is the most complicated part, but even if a couple of the veggies get a bit overcooked, it’s not a big deal falvour-wise or nutritionally. Think about soup veg; super overcooked but still good for you because most of the nutrients are trapped in the pot.

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

This is why we prefer steaming over blanching/boiling. They would get a nutritional rinse in the boiling water, whereas by steaming, they are never dunked in water and retain more nutrients (that’s why we like roasting too) (you could totally make this a roasted veggie bowl) (I find that steaming gives a truer, cleaner flavour, the roasted version would just be a different style of bowl but still good).

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

Sounds too complicated? There’s no reason why you couldn’t have this bowl topped with just broccoli or just Swiss chard and a leftover baked sweet potato in your fridge. It would still be delicious.

The quinoa is low-glycemic and gives it some protein, making it a solid meal. I actually think it goes perfectly (especially if you make it this way so that it tastes more neutral), but you could top rice or buckwheat or lentils, or anything at all, really. It tastes so good once you get through the flavourful veggies to have a small handful of garlicky/buttery quinoa leftover. If you’re feeling ambitious, this sauce would be an incredible way to top this off too.

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

I made/shot this while my mother in law was over, playing with my daughter. We then had it for lunch and although it is just steamed veggies and quinoa (exactly what people assume I put on this blog when I tell them about it), our bowls were vibrantly beautiful, there was variance in flavour and texture and they were delicious. It even felt kind of fancy :)

Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'

Side note: Sorry for my absence over the last couple of weeks. My Dad passed away suddenly and on top of it being very sad, there was a lot to do and plenty of family around who I wanted to spend time with. Also, veggies weren’t his favourite, so 2 weeks of veggie silence didn’t seem entirely inappropriate. He was a heavy smoker and passed away due to complications with emphysema. Stay tuned for a post on foods for lung health (although keep in mind, no vegetable is as effective at promoting lung health as quitting smoking would be!).


Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic 'Butter'
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 +
Garlic 'Butter':
  • 5 Garlic Cloves, minced (or shallots or green onions if garlic doesn't agree with you)
  • ¼ c Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (or extra virgin olive oil, just don't heat it beyond warming it through)
  • ¼ c Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Hard Veg: carrots, winter squash, sweet potato, beets, parsnip, celery root, rutabaga, turnip
  • Medium Veg: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, fennel, celery, Swiss chard stems, mushrooms, spring onion, radish
  • Leafy Veg: Kale, Swiss chard leaves, squash blossoms, spinach, radicchio, Belgian endive, fresh herbs
  • Cooked Quinoa (or buckwheat, rice, lentils, millet etc)
For the Garlic 'Butter':
  1. Melt the oil and garlic together until the garlic just starts to bubble.
  2. Turn the heat off and add the parsley (and optional lemon juice)
  1. Cut the veggies approximately the same size as the others in their category so that they cook at the same rate. The times given below may vary based on how big you have cut your veggies.
  2. Hard veg -steam for 10-15 minutes
  3. Medium veg -steam for 5-8 minutes
  4. Leafy veg -steam for 1-3 minutes
  5. Stack the hot veggies on top of the warm quinoa and drizzle the garlic butter over the top.

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5 Responses to Steamed Veggie & Quinoa Bowl with Garlic ‘Butter’

  1. mer June 5, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    Great idea with the green onions! Yumm. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  2. Dana McIntyre May 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

    Thank you, Mer! And yes, this is the perfect recipe to break in your new steamer, great timing. Maybe try it with thinly sliced green onions instead of the garlic?

  3. Dana McIntyre May 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    Thank you so much, Rendell :) And good for you, I love hearing that! xo

  4. mer May 29, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Hi Dana, we missed you… So sorry to hear about your Dad! Sending love xo

    This ‘recipe’ is great. Simple meals are very welcome to have in the cookbook repertoire. Would love to have lots of simple eating ideas that are nutrient dense and have the Dana wow yummy factor. I just bought a new bamboo steamer so this recipe is perfect timing. You know me and garlic so I am going to try it with ‘this sauce’ :-)

  5. Rendell May 29, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    Hi Dana, I was missing you and my thoughts are with you regarding your father’s passing. I’m glad you’ve had family around to comfort you. I am so going to make this. Thank you for all of your inspiration. I’m actually eating a more plant based diet these days and many of my favourite dishes are ones you’ve posted.

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