Tomato Quinoa (Nasi Tomato)

This Tomato Quinoa is inspired by the Malaysian rice dish Nasi Tomato, and for such simple ingredients, it is incredibly flavorful. Garlic and onions are sauteed with whole spices like cumin, cinnamon, and clove, and the flavors are anything but plain. The recipe comes from The Casual Veggie Cookbook (available here), and was created by my friend Christine, of the blog Vermilion Roots. Get the recipe at the bottom of this post, then head over to her site to check out her other recipes!

Tomato Quinoa (Nasi Tomato) | Will Cook For Friends

I love quinoa, but so often when I prepare it, I struggle to make it flavorful without over-doing the seasoning. It always turns out either bland, or waaaaay too salty. I don’t know what it is about those little grains (er, seeds?), because normally I’m pretty adept at seasoning, but when it comes to quinoa, I’m stumped. A pinch of this, a dash of that, and it only ever turns out okay.

Fortunately, my friend Christine has rescued me from this conundrum by creating this tomato quinoa. The recipe is simple — almost too simple — and at first I was skeptical that so few ingredients could turn into something so delicious.

Thankfully, I’ve been known to be wrong about these things, and should’ve known that sometimes, simple is best.

Tomato Quinoa (Nasi Tomato) | Will Cook For Friends

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of diversity in the foods that I ate, so getting a taste of other cultures through foods has become one of my favorite aspects of cooking. Reading Christine’s blog is like getting a little peak into her world — she is Malaysian by decent, now living in California, and sharing a mix of regional dishes many of which she grew up cooking and eating with her family. Her stories are so vivid, it almost feels like you’re standing in her kitchen getting to know her while she prepares each dish.

I first got to know Christine through our collaboration on The Casual Veggie E-Cookbook. This Tomato Quinoa is straight from the book, and was one of the first recipes I gravitated towards when I read it. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can think of this as a glimpse of what’s inside… but just a little one. The book contains over 150 recipes from nearly 50 different bloggers (including yours truly), so there’s tons of variety!

You can check it out and get your copy of The Casual Veggie here(P.S., if you’re still trying to find the perfect gift for the foodies in your life… *hint hint*)

Tomato Quinoa (Nasi Tomato) | Will Cook For Friends

While I was cooking up this tomato quinoa, Christine was throwing together one of my own recipes from The Casual Veggie. Get the recipe for the tomato quinoa below, then head over to her site to get my recipe, and take a gander around her gorgeous blog while you’re there. (Doesn’t this coconut egg jam sound incredible?!)

What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa? Let me know in the comments below!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tomato Quinoa (Nasi Tomato)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
"This recipe is inspired by the popular Malaysian rice dish, nasi tomato. This is one of those dishes that has benefitted from the many cultures that call Malaysia home, with each culture having their own variation on the recipe. I thought I'd give it my own spin, and make it with quinoa instead. I highly suggest using fresh tomatoes over store-bought tomato paste or ketchup. It can be served as a side dish with meat and vegetables, but it's so packed with flavors that it's just as good on its own!" -- Christine
Serves: 2-4
  • 8 to 10 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ inch ginger, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, sliced into
  • thin pieces
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • Water
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  1. In a food processor, blend the cherry tomatoes, ginger, cumin powder, coconut palm sugar, and salt until you have a puree. Pour into a measuring cup and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat, and saute the garlic and yellow onion, followed by the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and clove, until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices. Add bell pepper and saute for another minute or two, until it turns slightly soft.
  3. Add the tomato puree and water. You will need 2 cups of liquid to cook 1 cup of quinoa, and that amount should come from the tomato puree and water combined. For example, if the puree measures ½ cup, add 1½ cups water to make 2 cups of liquid. Add quinoa and stir to combine all ingredients.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat on low, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes (or according to package instructions). Quinoa is cooked when the grain is translucent with a ring around it. Turn off heat and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff quinoa with fork, and remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and whole clove. Garnish with fresh cilantro on top or stir in chopped cilantro for added flavor.
This recipe is super flavorful, and would be a great side to any meal. When I was done photographing the quinoa on it's own, I quickly sauteed some shrimp (tofu would be good, too) with a little bit of sriracha, to go with. Served with a salad, this became a delicious and healthy dinner for The Husband and I. The recipe makes 4 side-dish sized servings, or 2 bigger portions, so if you're wanting to make a meal out of it I suggest doubling the recipe. (Or double it anyway, because the leftovers are delicious, too!)

This page contains an affiliate link, which means if you purchase a copy of The Casual Veggie Cookbook, a portion of the proceeds go directly to supporting this site. Your support literally puts food on my table and on the blog, so THANK YOU!

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6 Responses to Tomato Quinoa (Nasi Tomato)

  1. Christine | Vermilion Roots December 11, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    Hey Willow! I’m really glad that you like this recipe. So happy you made a Malaysian-style dish. I’m loving all the recipes you share here! :-)

    • Willow Arlen December 11, 2015 at 12:29 am #

      Thanks, Christine! I didn’t just like the quinoa, I LOVED the quinoa. Will definitely be making it again when I have fresh tomatoes in my backyard!

  2. Brandi December 16, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    This looks great! I’m such a big fan of quinoa already, but this is a little different from anything I’ve made before. It looks like your blog has a lot of vege-friendly recipes, so I’ll definitely be coming back for more!

    • Willow Arlen December 16, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Brandi! This quinoa was really delicious, I hope you try it!

  3. Ewa December 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    This looks so delicious! I must try!

    • Willow Arlen December 16, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

      It is sooo good, and very easy to make — I hope you try it!

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