Chances are good that if you peek inside my lunch container in the next few months or ask me to bring something to a potluck, it will be some version of this recipe. Which is another way of saying that I don’t expect I’ll grow tired of it.

Any time you combine a blend of spices commonly featured in Tex-Mex dishes with tomato, black beans, corn and peppers, I am in. Here, they snuggle with quinoa in the same pot, rendering that “not a grain but acts like one” ingredient tender and flavorful and part of a happy jumble. All the components are Dinner in Minutes Pantry friendly, of course.

Stock your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer with these staples for stress-free, satisfying meals. (Taylor Turner/The Washington Post)

The mixture is satisfying on its own, warm or at room temperature. But it accepts add-ins quite graciously, and therein lies its grain-bowl utility. Add cubes of leftover chicken or ham, chunks of ripe avocado, roasted vegetables. Thus far, I have sprinkled the remains of a tortilla chip bag on top; stirred in crumbles of queso fresco; covered a bowlful with toasted sesame seeds and shredded nori; added cashews, mandarin orange sections and a citrusy dressing.

But wait, there’s more! I plan to combine this quinoa dish with some of my favorite chopped-salad greens, and maybe some flakes of smoked fish or pickled onions. Are your own meal wheels turning yet? Make a batch in 30 minutes, then have fun with it.


  • 1/2 medium orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper (may substitute a pinch of ground cayenne pepper)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup canned, no-salt-added black beans
  • 1/2 cup dried white quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth or water
  • 3/4 cup canned, no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (regular or fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Small handful parsley (may substitute cilantro)
  • 1 lime, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving

Step 1

Discard the stem, seeds and white ribs from the bell pepper, then dice the remaining flesh into 1/4-inch pieces. Repeat with jalapeño, except you will mince instead of dice. Mince the garlic.

Step 2

Drain the black beans. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer.

Step 3

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan until shimmering, over medium heat. Stir in the bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic; cook for 1 minute, then add the chili powder, cumin and dried oregano, stirring to incorporate.

Step 4

Cook for 1 minute, then add the rinsed/drained quinoa, the broth or water, the drained tomatoes and beans, the corn, salt and pepper. Stir to distribute evenly, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, at which point the liquid should be absorbed. If not, keep cooking for an few more minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 5

Coarsely chop the parsley, then gently stir some of it into the quinoa, along with any add-in ingredient you have on hand.

Cut the lime into wedges. Top each portion with a dollop of sour cream and serve with the lime wedges.

Adapted from “Dinner Just for Two,” by Christina Lane (Countryman Press, 2019).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to

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The nutritional analysis is based on 3 servings.


Calories: 290; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 280 mg; Carbohydrates: 41 g; Dietary Fiber: 9 g; Sugars: 5 g; Protein: 10 g.