Roasted Chickpea Quinoa Bowls with Creamy Vegan Ranch

Roasted Chickpea Quinoa Bowls with Creamy Vegan Ranch


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These roasted chickpea quinoa bowls are a high-protein, flavor-packed option to add to your weekly meal prep or dinner rotation. They feature fluffy, cooked quinoa, crispy baked tempeh bacon and roasted chickpeas, chopped romaine lettuce, and a generous drizzle of creamy homemade vegan ranch dressing. Each bowl packs more than twenty-five grams of plant protein, along with fiber, texture, flavor, and color—what could be better?

A large, white bowl is filled with vegetables, roasted chickpeas, quinoa, and a creamy ranch dressing. The bowl is topped with pepitas.

The longer I cultivate a habit of vegan meal prep, the more I appreciate the value of vegan basics.

By “basics,” I mean straightforward components that can multitask efficiently in meals. Basics might include simple vegan proteins, homemade vegan cheeses, sauces, and snacks.

With the right basics in your fridge, you can go on to create what I think of as being “assembly” meals. They’re not so much recipes with lots of cooking steps so much as the end product of mixing and matching.

Most of the time, what I mix and match are combinations of proteins, like beans, tofu, or tempeh, whole grains, sauces, and whatever vegetables I happen to have at home.

These roasted chickpea quinoa bowls are a perfect example of what’s possible when you take the time to prepare a few solid vegan basics. Big flavor, lots of texture, and an especially nutritious meal.

Thanks to not one, but three sources of plant protein—chickpeas, quinoa, and tempeh—one of these bowls supplies about twenty-five grams of protein.

Greens, beans, and grains are all ample sources of dietary fiber, iron, and phytonutrients. Here, they’re presented in a fun, flavorful, and colorful way.

Protein-packed meal prep

I’m probably a broken record with the following message, but I think it’s so important to put protein at front and center when it comes to vegan meal prep.

My reasoning is that the other macronutrients—fat and carbohydrates—tend to take care of themselves.

If you eat a plant-based diet, with its abundant offerings of legumes, grains, grain products, corn, and potatoes, it’s really not hard to obtain adequate carbohydrates in your diet.

Remembering to include a healthful fat source with meals may require a little more thought, but it happens very easily. A drizzle of vinaigrette or olive oil, a sprinkling of toasted nuts or seeds, an avocado half or scoop of guacamole—all of these things can be added to your meal in an instant.

With protein, it’s a little more tricky.

Of course it’s not a big ask to open up a can of beans and add some to a salad or bowl.

However, if you want a really well-seasoned protein—for example, flavorful brothy beans, baked and marinated balsamic tofu, or savory tempeh meatballs for your next bowl of pasta—you’ll need to do some planning.

For me, planning = meal prep.

I can have lots of great ideas about upcoming meals that I’d like to eat. But if I don’t carve out time each week to plan and execute meal prep, very few of them will come to fruition.

As I wrote in my cookbook The Vegan Week,

“My enthusiasm for cooking will probably always wax and wane, but thanks to the habit of meal prep, I manage to cook and eat well even when I’m resistant or unmotivated. I become more intentional about what I eat, and my meals become more wholesome. My taste buds are grateful for diversity, and my body is grateful for sensible, balanced nutrition.”

A sensible intake of vegan protein is a big part of how I conceptualize “balanced nutrition.” Meal prep is how I make it happen.

For this roasted chickpea quinoa bowl, you’ll meal prep three separate, good sources of protein.

These are:

  • Tempeh bacon, which is crispy slices of salty, marinated and baked tempeh
  • Quinoa
  • Roasted chickpeas

Together, these three ingredients add up to lots of protein, and a varied array of amino acids, at that.

Beyond their functionality, these components make the bowl a delight to eat. The chickpeas and tempeh bacon each provide crispy texture, while the quinoa is tender and fluffy.

Through in a creamy dressing and bowl of crunchy greens, and you’ve got a bowl that is especially full of sensory delight.

An angled image of a glass mason jar, resting on a white surface. It contains a creamy vegan ranch dressing with herbs.
You can use either fresh or dried herbs in your homemade vegan ranch, but I think that fresh herbs add the most vibrant flavor.

Creamy, homemade vegan ranch dressing

A word about that dressing: it’s a new invention for me, though I’ve been trying to perfect a homemade ranch for years.

After experimenting with multiple ingredients and creamy bases, I called upon my culinary MVP, cashew nuts, to create a rich, smooth texture.

I like to use fresh herbs in the vegan ranch, rather than dried, but my recipe offers options for using either.

For me, ranch dressing + smoky flavors feels like a natural, classic combo. In fact, it was this dressing that inspired the entire roasted chickpea quinoa bowl.

However, dressings are one of the homemade basics that I create most often, so I have alternatives to offer you if ranch isn’t your thing. Here are some:

  • 5-Ingredient Dijon lemon tahini dressing
  • Cashew cilantro sauce
  • Tahini beet dressing
  • Yum sauce
  • Smoky avocado cumin dressing
  • Creamy cashew carrot dressing
  • Sweet Dijon vinaigrette
  • Amazing cashew queso sauce

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Buy The Vegan Week

How to make roasted chickpea quinoa bowls

My best advice for making these flavorful, winning bowls is to take a look at the various components, then think about when you want to meal prep them.

If you stagger the preparation process, it’ll be so easy to just put the bowls together when you’re ready to eat (or to pack up a meal).

When I prepare a grain bowl like this one, I always take care of at least one or two components ahead of time. Ideally, I prepare all of them in advance of assembling.

If you want to take a really proactive approach to the roasted chickpea quinoa bowls, you can freeze one or a couple of the components. Roasted chickpeas, tempeh bacon, and cooked quinoa can all be frozen for up to 6 weeks.

With that said, here’s a walkthrough.

Step 1: Prepare your protein components according to your schedule

Get a head start on this recipe by preparing at least the crispy tempeh bacon and crispy roasted chickpeas. You can make them together—so long as the oven is going to be on, you may as well multitask—or create them separately.

For the tempeh bacon, remember that it needs some time to marinate (two hours) before you bake it.

An overhead image of two small, white bowls. One contains crispy roasted chickpeas, while the other contains darkened, crispy baked tempeh bacon.
The crispy components of this recipe, chickpeas and tempeh bacon, can be roasted around the same time or prepared separately, advance or right before mixing the bowls. Adjust this to fit your schedule!

Step 2: Prepare the quinoa

Quinoa takes less time to cook than many other grains, which makes it convenient. However, it can sometimes be a little finicky.

In order to avoid quinoa that’s too gummy or not tender enough, I recommend a 1:1.75 ratio of grain to cooking liquid.

I also recommend simmering the quinoa, covered, for exactly thirteen minutes. Then, remove it from heat and let it stand, covered, for another five minutes.

An overhead image of a silver saucepan, which is filled with fluffy, cooked quinoa.
Thirteen minutes of stovetop simmering, a five minute resting period off heat, and some fluffing with a fork will ensure tender, perfectly cooked quinoa each time.

Finally, uncover the quinoa and fluff it with a fork.

Yes, a precise cooking time of thirteen minutes may sound a little silly. Yet I’ve found that these tips are the key to achieving perfectly cooked quinoa, meal after meal.

Step 3: Assemble your bowls

Finally, it’s time to put your roasted chickpea quinoa bowls together.

Distribute the chopped romaine into four bowls. Divide the tempeh bacon, chickpeas, quinoa among them, then add a little heap of halved grape or cherry tomatoes.

Finally, go ahead and dress each bowl generously—smother the bowl, if you want to!—with the creamy vegan ranch.

I personally love to top these bowls with pepitas, a type of shelled pumpkin seeds. If you like a little extra crunch, you could also try topping the bowls with:

  • Shelled sunflower seeds
  • Toasted, chopped walnuts
  • Crispy baked vegan candied pecans
  • Quick pickled cucumber slices
  • 10-minute quick pickled onions

Some fresh, chopped cilantro or parsley is a nice finishing touch as well.

Meal prep & storage

If you don’t plan to serve the roasted chickpea quinoa bowls right away, then you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

There are two ways to go about this: you could assemble your “bowls” in meal prep storage containers (you can get my recommendations in my beginner’s guide to vegan meal prep), or you can store the components separately and assemble as ready.

In either case, I recommend storing the dressing on its own and adding it right before you sit down to eat.

Variations

As with most of the vegan bowls on this site, there’s plenty of space to vary components and make substitutions within the roasted chickpea quinoa bowls.

Most notably, you can use store-bought roasted chickpeas or tempeh bacon in place of homemade. I love the Tofurky brand Smoky Maple Bacon in particular.

You could also trade roasted chickpeas for plain, un-roasted chickpeas, straight from a can. The bowl will have a little less crunch, but it’ll still be full of texture overall.

Tempeh bacon can be replaced by any of the following simple plant proteins:

  • 20-minute air fryer tempeh nuggets
  • 5-ingredient vegan soy curl chicken strips
  • Baked smoky tofu slices
  • Baked balsamic tofu
  • Simple tempeh meatballs
  • Savory chickpea oat balls

You could also add a store-bought, baked tofu. A few brands offer ready-to-eat options these days.

Finally, while I love the crunch of chopped romaine in the bowls, there’s no reason not to experiment with an alternative type of lettuce or various additional veggies.

Roasted red peppers, broccoli florets, chopped cucumber, and shredded cabbage would all work nicely in the recipe.

Finally, it’s very rewarding to make homemade ranch, but it’s by no means a necessity. The Follow Your Heart brand and Primal Kitchen brand each make good, store-bought vegan ranch dressings.

More nutritious vegan bowls to savor

If you love a good bowl for a meal prep dinner or meal prep lunch, I have plenty of additional recipes for you to explore.

Here are a few of my favorites, all of which put protein front and center:

  • Quinoa beet bowls
  • Chickpea burrito bowls
  • Meal prep teriyaki tofu noodle bowls
  • Chili roasted cauliflower brown rice kimchi bowls
  • Vegan dumpling bowls
  • Vegan harvest bowls with tempeh
  • Lemon pepper tempeh vegetable pasta bowls
  • Spicy sofrito seitan bowls
  • Red curry noodle bowls
  • Nutritious quinoa protein bowl

And here’s the crunchy, satisfying new creation that I’m adding to the list.

A large, white bowl is filled with vegetables, roasted chickpeas, quinoa, and a creamy ranch dressing. The bowl is topped with pepitas.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white quinoa, rinsed (180g)
  • 8 cups lightly packed, chopped romaine lettuce (substitute another salad green of choice)
  • 1 batch crispy roasted chickpeas (substitute 1 1/2 cups store-bought, roasted chickpeas)
  • 1 batch baked, crispy tempeh bacon (substitute 8 ounces / 225g store-bought, bacon-style tempeh strips)
  • 1 1/2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade vegan ranch dressing (about 1/3 cup / 80ml per bowl; substitute 1 1/3 cups store-bought vegan ranch dressing)
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (30g; optional, for garnishing)

Instructions

  • Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water for about 30 seconds. Transfer the rinsed quinoa to a medium pot and add the water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer until all the water has been absorbed, about 13 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork. Allow the quinoa to cool for 20 minutes.
  • Arrange the romaine lettuce in four bowls. Top each bed of greens with a quarter each of the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, tempeh bacon, and tomatoes. Drizzle the ranch dressing generously over each bowl, then add a sprinkle of pepitas, if desired. Serve.

Notes

Components can be stored separately or in assembled meal prep bowls for up to five days in airtight containers in the fridge. 

To make a long story short, I’m just getting back into my own meal prep after having lots of interruptions with it this past fall and winter.

It feels really, really good. I’m reminded once again that it’s my favorite way to keep on cooking, through thick and thin.

And these bowls have been a wonderful jumping off point. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too!

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