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.
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
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.
Drain the black beans. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.