Mexican Quinoa

How do I explain the reasons I love quinoa? Is it the nutty quality that it gives to dishes? Is it the insanely great texture? Not only is this ancient South American grain so fun to say “quinoa” (pronounced keen-wah), but it is packed with amazing nutritional benefits and taste. Fun fact: it is the only grain to contain all of the essential amino acids; great for vegetarians.

I am very excited to share this recipe because it is one of my all-time favorites…..ever. I cannot seem to get enough of this recipe because it combines several of my favorite foods into one comforting, satisfying, indescribably (is that a word?) delicious dish. Recently I have been purchasing the tri-color quinoa from Trader Joe’s because I think the color is amazing. However, if you only have one type of quinoa in your local grocery store feel free to use that; there is no difference in taste for the different colors, it just looks pretty. After all, we do eat with our eyes first. Which brings me to the next few reasons that I love Mexican Quinoa; the colors are vibrant and the textures cannot be beat. The roasted corn is crunchy, black beans and avocado are creamy, and the fresh serrano pepper lends a welcome spiciness. My mouth is beginning to water…

Quinoa is ridiculously easy to cook and also gluten-free! Don’t be intimidated by quinoa, its been around for thousands of years and recently has been gaining more attention. It is now widely available in supermarkets and even come in quick cooking mixes (usually in the rice aisle). One of the best things about quinoa is that it is fairly flavorless on its own, although it does lend great texture and a slight nutty flavor. This is a benefit to home cooks because it will take on any flavor you pair it with (think white or brown rice). I encourage you to get in the kitchen and experiment!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed (Don’t skip this step! It is important because it removes the bitter coating)
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups corn
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In saucepan add water and bring to boil; add quinoa and reduce the heat. Simmer quinoa with lid on for 15-18 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for 5-10 minutes. While quinoa is cooking place corn kernels on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Spray lightly with non-stick spray and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven 10-15 minutes until the corn begins to brown. Chop tomatoes, red onion, and serrano while quinoa and corn are cooking.

Quinoa should look light and fluffy

Place quinoa in a baking dish and spread into an even layer. Top with black beans, then corn. Next layer on the tomatoes, red onion, and sprinkle the serrano pepper. Top with diced avocado. Lastly, squeeze the juice of 1 lime and drizzle with olive oil. If you like cilantro a sprinkle of that would be wonderful, but I am personally not a fan.

I have served this alone as a dinner or as a side to grilled fish. Mexican quinoa is great immediately after it is cooked, and even better the next day as leftovers in your lunch. (I devoured mine in record time today at work) Enjoy!

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