Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mexican Quinoa

I’m willing to bet that even if you’re not hungry, you’d start salivating a little when you get a whiff of fresh garlic hitting a hot pan.  We’re talking Pavlov style here.  There are a few things that always do it for me – garlic, the sound and smell of sizzling onions, and on the sweet side – the scent of cinnamon wafting from the oven - I’m a sucker for it.

This super simple recipe starts out with sautéing some chopped fresh garlic.  If you like to cook as I do, the smell invokes instant relaxation and puts everything swirling around in your head to rest, at least for the 30 minutes it takes to put this together. (Kind of how the sound of a running dishwasher makes you want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and nap….no?  Just me?)  It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal and can easily be adapted as you’ll see below.  After cooking up the garlic and some peppers for a couple minutes, it’s really just a matter of tossing everything into one pot and letting it go.  Healthy, flavorful and high in protein, you can’t argue with that.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats: 


2-3 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced – I used 3 medium sized cloves
3-4 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped – I subbed about 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained – I used red, but color doesn’t matter
1 ¼ cups vegetable broth – I used chicken broth
1 can (about 1 ½ cups) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup frozen corn (or kernels from 2 cobs)
½ tsp kosher salt
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro – I used about 1 tsp dried cilantro
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
3 scallions, thinly sliced – my addition


Heat olive oil in large saucepan (one that has a lid) over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and jalapeños/crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the quinoa and let it toast for 2-3 minutes.  Add broth, black beans, tomatoes, corn and salt and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the liquid is fully absorbed.  If using dried cilantro, add it when you have about 5 minutes of simmering left.  Once the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat.  Add the fresh cilantro and lime juice.

*Couple notes:  I had a leftover chicken breast, so I chopped that up and added it at the same time as everything else.  Nothing wrong with even more protein, right?  I also couldn’t believe this recipe didn’t include onion of some sort so I chopped up a few scallions and tossed them in for the simmer as well.  I think it adds a flavor that would have been lacking.

Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream/plain Greek yogurt, salsa, avocado, etc.  Enjoy!