Welcome to The Basil & Cinnamon Sagas! I'm Alexa, and I am a food and travel blogger who loves cooking, baking, eating, and storytelling. Enjoy reading and eating your way through the Sagas found here!

Summer Quinoa Bowl

Summer Quinoa Bowl


Hi all!

Well, the big move happened. And then it kept happening. And kept happening. And honestly, it's still happening. Even though I finally got all the boxes unpacked and things organized, and actually just a couple days ago got the stacks of books off of the floor and hung the pictures on the walls, moving still doesn't seem to be over. Just this morning, I spent more than two hours waiting at the DMV to register my car for my new state, only to be told that I couldn't be helped today because I needed another signature. Oy vey. 

Where, you may be wondering (or if you follow my Insta stories, you already know), was the big move to? 

You're speaking to a brand new resident of Charleston, South Carolina! Did anyone guess Charleston from the clue in my last post? Apparently, pineapples are a symbol of southern hospitality, and the city has sort of adopted that symbol and ran with it. There are pineapples scattered throughout Charleston, on the top of wrought iron gates and in store windows, and most prevalently, the giant pineapple fountain in Waterfront Park.

After the 4th of July, my mom and I packed up my car, shoved ourselves into the two remaining crevices of space, and started the long drive from Colorado to South Carolina. The first day was an 11-ish hour drive through Eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, where we spent the night in a hotel that I still shudder to think about. The next day we woke up bright and early and drove 9 hours through the rest of Missouri, then Kentucky, and finally to Knoxville, Tennessee, where we ate at a Mellow Mushroom and stayed in a much nicer hotel. On the third day, we had a beautiful 4 hour drive through the green forests of Tennessee and the lush, verdant mountains of North Carolina, and we stopped just outside of Charlotte to stay in my grandparents' house. They're packing up and moving to Florida, so it was special to have been able to see their house again before they sell it. It's a beautiful house, with a sun-kissed sun porch, a flourishing garden out front complete with a bubbling fountain, acres of rolling green land and ancient trees, a tractor, and gorgeous old brick on the exterior. There are also some treasures scattered throughout the interior house: the monkey carpet in the floor of one of the bedrooms (I got to stay in the monkey room! Score!), an olive green toilet and sink in one bathroom and an electric blue toilet and shower in another, Japanese garden wallpaper in the dining room, and an indoor grill--all things I have never seen anywhere else, but only add to the charm and nostalgia I feel towards my grandparents' house. 

The next day, we drove the rest of the way to Charleston, where we stayed in in my aunt's friend's condo while I looked for an apartment. Her condo is right on the intracoastal waterway, and is more beautiful than words can accurately describe. Amidst the craziness of moving and Uhauls and boxes and sweating through 85° weather with 85% humidity and me getting the stomach flu for the first time in 10 years (excellent timing, immune system, excellent timing), her back porch was a refuge. There were four wind chimes that jangled softly in the breeze coming off of the ocean, and I could sink back into the cozy green cushions and watch pelicans swooping down and catching fish, listening to the water lap against the dock. 


Fast forward a few weeks, and I've found an apartment and moved in, started an internship and another job, taken a week-long vacation with my family and extended family to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, and spent a day exploring historic downtown Charleston with my brother and parents. With all the chaos of moving and movement, I have barely had time to grocery shop, let alone cook or blog (seriously, I've never seen my fridge more empty). But since yesterday was my birthday, I decided enough was enough and I needed to carve out a little bit of time for myself in the day and do something that is important to me--which is so vital for us all to do. Life only seems to get crazier and more demanding as we keep living it, but our happiness depends very concretely on how we treat ourselves and others. If we give ourselves permission to focus on ensuring our own health and joy, even for just a few minutes or an hour a day, we can take the positive energy those moments create and use it in our interactions with others and with the tasks that we must complete in our daily lives.

Thus, in my moment for myself, the Summer Quinoa Bowl arose. I'm a summer baby, so rather than going with the typical cake or baked good for a birthday post, I decided instead to take advantage of all the delicious summer veggies that are stocking the booths of local farmers markets right now. I know that some of you are getting pretty pumped for fall and are jumping the gun a little and getting funky in the kitchen with things like pumpkin--and that is completely your right!--but where I am, summer is still in full swing. Oddly enough, I just can't find that crisp feeling in the air that means autumn is approaching when it's 94° outside with a heat index of 110° (yikes). 

In that kind of heat, turning on the oven to bake something is extremely unappetizing. Meandering through the haphazard rows of my local farmers market and picking up all varieties of cherry tomatoes (Pink Tiger anyone? Chocolate Pear?) to quickly sauté on the stove with some chickpeas, bell peppers, sweet corn, and kale and throw in a pot of quinoa, though? That sounds like a much better way to spend a summer day.

xoxo Alexa

Summer Quinoa Bowl

Summer Quinoa Bowl

Makes: 4-5 servings

Takes: About 25 minutes

The Characters:

  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 handfuls cherry tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 can (15 oz.) or 2 ears of golden corn
  • 5 oz. baby kale
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • Feta cheese (or cheese of choice)

The Saga:

  1. Rinse quinoa and prepare in 2 cups water according to package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, coat the bottom of a large skillet in olive oil and turn to medium heat.
  3. Rinse and drain chickpeas and add them to the pan. Season with crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt, and pepper to taste, stirring a couple times to coat. 
  4. Cook chickpeas for 5 minutes on one side, and then stir to flip.
  5. Add cherry tomatoes to the skillet. They will sweeten and burst as the chickpeas cook on their other side for 5 minutes.
  6. Dice bell peppers and rinse and drain corn. Add both to the skillet.
  7. Add baby kale to the skillet, stirring until wilted.
  8. Add lemon juice to the skillet, as well as more sea salt and black pepper, and stir to incorporate. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes with the flavors of the tomato juice.
  9. Combine the contents of the skillet with the quinoa, and sprinkle feta cheese (or another cheese of choice--parmesan is also good!) and a little more black pepper on top. Serve hot!

Recipe inspired by Andrea Bemis's Butter Beans and Greens recipe from her Dishing Up The Dirt cookbook.


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