chickpeas and quinoa cooked in black cast iron pot with chopped parsley and red peppers

Middle Eastern chickpeas and quinoa with Za’atar spice blend

  • Author: Denise
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 big bowls 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A deliciously healthy, plant-based, gluten-free meal of chickpeas and quinoa is as easy as a roasted red pepper and the magic of warming Za’atar spice blend.



  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Za’atar spice blend (see ingredients below)
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 -15 oz. cans) rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • Fresh chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Za’atar spice blend

  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. chili flakes


  1. To roast the pepper, preheat the oven to 4250F (2200C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse and cut the pepper into quarters, cleaning out the stem and seeds from the pepper. Place it on the baking sheet, skin-side up, and roast it in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the skin starts to brown and char.
  3. Meanwhile, grab a heavy bottom pot and heat it to medium. Add 1 tsp. sesame seeds and stirring them constantly, toast them for 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove them from the heat and add them to a small bowl. Set the pot aside because we’ll use it for the rest of the recipe.
  4. In the small bowl with the sesame seeds, mix in the rest of the Za’atar ingredients – 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. sumac, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. dried thyme, and ½ tsp. chili flakes.
  5. Once the pepper has roasted, remove it from the oven, and when it is cool enough to handle, dice it.
  6. Be sure at this point you have all the rest of the ingredients ready and heat your pot over medium.
  7. Add the garlic and 1 Tbsp. of the Za’atar. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, being careful that the garlic doesn’t scorch.
  8. Next, add the chickpeas and sauté them for 3 minutes to allow them to brown a bit.
  9. Add the diced pepper, 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, and 1 tbsp. smoked paprika. Mix everything well.
  10. Add 4 cups of water, 2 bay leaves, and then the rinsed quinoa. Bring the pot to a simmer. Cover and let the quinoa cook for 15 minutes until it is tender and most of the water is absorbed.
  11. Taste before you serve if you want to add extra chili flakes or salt.
  12. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.


  • The total time for this recipe assumes you are roasting your own red pepper and are prepping everything else while it roasts.
  • If you are making Za’atar spice blend and can’t find sumac, substitute 1 tsp. of lemon zest in the mix.
  • Store any leftover homemade Za’atar in a labeled, tightly sealed jar or sealed bag.
  • To reheat, on the stovetop, add ½ cup of water so the quinoa doesn’t stick to the bottom. It also heats well in the microwave.
  • Category: Main Courses
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Keywords: Middle Eastern chickpeas and quinoa with Za'atar spice blend