Chickpea, sweet potato and quinoa bowls are perfect for meal prep and make ahead lunches. They feature seasoned roasted sweet potatoes, two sources of plant-based protein, and a zesty lemon-almond sauce. This recipe is vegan & gluten-free.
Not to be confused with my popular Mediterranean chickpea quinoa bowls or the sauce for my almond butter stir fry, these sweet potato quinoa bowls are inspired by one of my favorite frozen meals to grab at the store.
Grain bowls are a staple in plant-based diets because they are packed with nutrients, perfect for meal prep, and easy to customize.
These cozy vegetarian sweet potato bowls feature whole grains from quinoa and sweet potatoes, protein from chickpeas and hemp seeds, and a source of vegetables from sauteed spinach and onion.
Everything is tossed in a zesty lemon-almond sauce that ties the components of the grain bowls together.
- Chickpeas: I use a can of chickpeas but you can almost make your own from dry. One can yields ~1.5 cups.
- Sweet potato: Red/orange sweet potato works best here. I leave the skins on to add more dimension and texture, but you can peel them if you prefer.
- Quinoa: Cook your own quinoa or buy frozen quinoa to save time. Not a fan of quinoa? Any grain blend works well here.
- Spinach: Saute spinach with sweet yellow onion for a small-but-mighty vegetable base. Spinach tends to shrink a lot, so I recommend using at least 2 cups per serving.
- Hemp seeds: Like chia seeds, these provide protein and omega-3s. They are very soft and almost unnoticeable in the bowls, but they add a huge pop of nutrition in a small dose.
- Almond butter combines with turmeric and lemon juice to make a simple but zesty sauce. For a nut-free option, try using tahini or sunflower seed butter instead.
- Sweet yellow onion is an easy way to add flavor extra vegetables to this meal (yes, onion counts as a vegetable!). White, standard yellow, or red onion do work if that's what you already have on hand.
🔪 How to make
Step 1: Roast the sweet potatoes and chickpeas
Line a half or full sheet pan with parchment paper for easy clean up (optional).
Add the drained chickpeas and diced sweet potato directly to the pan. Drizzle with olive oil (or a neutral oil of choice like avocado or canola) and the spices.
Toss everything together to coat thoroughly in the oil and spices.
Roast at 425F for 30-35 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender throughout and golden around the edges. The chickpeas will be crisp and dry on the outside.
Step 2: Make the quinoa
Time-saving tip: I always make a double batch of quinoa and freeze half of it to have on hand for quick meals and bowls like this. To thaw, simply throw in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or let thaw in the fridge overnight. You can also buy frozen quinoa at most grocery stores.
Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Rinse the quinoa under cool running water. This actually helps to remove some of the bitterness that quinoa tends to have.
Combine 1 part quinoa with 2 parts water OR vegetable broth (adds extra flavor) in a medium pot. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to a low simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer the quinoa for about 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Do not stir the quinoa while it cooks.
Use a fork to fluff the quinoa before serving.
Step 3: Saute the vegetables
Start by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle with oil. Once hot, add diced yellow onion. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and golden (see image above). Sprinkle with salt.
Add about 8 large handfuls (2 handfuls per serving) of spinach to the pan. It may look like a ton of spinach but it will wilt down dramatically. This is why I recommend using a large pan.
Add in a few cloves of minced garlic at the same time as the spinach. Stir the spinach every so often, until it is completely wilted. You can speed up the process by covering the pan with a lid.
Step 4: Make the sauce
I usually make grain bowl sauces in pint-sized mason jars. Simply add the almond butter, lemon juice, and turmeric to the jar/bowl and whisk until smooth. Add water as needed to thin to a pourable consistency.
The amount of water needed will vary based on the thickness of the almond butter, but I usually add 1-3 tablespoons of water.
🧾 Meal prep options
All of these ingredients keep well for up to 4 days, so these sweet potato bowls are perfect for meal prepping.
The recipe makes 4 bowls, but they can be stretched further by adding additional protein, veggies, and other toppings (see the section below for ideas).
If meal prepping, divide the ingredients between four containers. You can add the sauce directly to the bowls or put it in a separate container to add just before serving.
Garnishes like cilantro, lime, and avocado are best added just before serving.
💭 Variations and add-ons
- Vegetables: Heartier vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, or broccoli can be roasted on the sheet pan alongside the chickpeas and sweet potatoes. More tender vegetables like peppers are best sauteed alongside the onion.
- Healthy fats: Avocado is a great addition to these bowls because it is a source of healthy fats and it adds an additional "creamy factor". A big dollop of hummus is another good option.
- Flavor: I always keep a jar of quick pickled onions on hand to add to bowls like this. They provide a punch of acid and zest.
- Protein: For extra protein, double the chickpeas or add baked tofu to each serving. These are also good with frozen falafel or homemade chickpea fritters on top.
Looking for more grain bowls?
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Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls with Almond Sauce
Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas
- 1 large sweet potato about 1#
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (more as needed) ex. canola, avocado, olive
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Quinoa and Spinach
- ¾ cup dry uncooked quinoa
- 1 and ½ cups water or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon salt divided
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion chopped finely
- 8 cups (large handfuls) fresh spinach
- 3 cloves minced garlic adjust to taste
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 large lemon
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2-4 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
- 1 large avocado sliced (optional)
Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Dice the sweet potatoes into ½ inch cubes. I leave the skin on but it can be removed if you prefer.
- Add the drained chickpeas and diced sweet potato directly to the pan. Drizzle with oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, and salt. Use clean hands or a spatula to combine.
- Roast at 425F for 30-35 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender throughout and golden around the edges. The chickpeas will be crisp and dry on the outside.
Quinoa and Spinach
- Place ¾ cup of quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Rinse the quinoa under cool running water. Transfer to a medium pot and cover with 1 and ½ cups of water and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce to a low simmer over low heat. Cover with a lid and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle with enough oil to coat the pan. Once hot, add diced yellow onion. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and golden. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Add the spinach and minced garlic. Stir occasionally, until the spinach is completely wilted.
- In a small jar or bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, almond butter, and turmeric until smooth. Whisk in water 1 tablespoon at a time until thinned to a pourable dressing-like consistency.
- Assemble the bowls by dividing all ingredients across four bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon of hemp hearts. Garnish each serving with fresh chopped cilantro and a few slices of avocado. Drizzle with the almond dressing just before serving. Enjoy!
- Meal prep/leftovers: Best within 4 days, keep refrigerated. The sauce can be added to bowls or kept separate until ready to eat.