I don’t know why I haven’t tried quinoa before today. I love whole grains. I try to eat a varied diet. So many people have told me how much they like quinoa. I even bought a bag of it several months ago and then… forgot about it. I decided to try it today and I’m so glad I did.
I knew I had quinoa. I knew I had a can of black beans so I went in search of inspiration. I had to look no further than Epicurious. The recipe for Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro looked really tasty. I was ready to go for it and then I noticed that there were over fifty comments in the review section. Most people loved the recipe but each person had a suggestion on how to make it even better. I decided most of these suggestions sounded great so I went ahead and made many, many changes. One accidental change that I’ll recommend is to use Aleppo pepper for part of the chili powder. I ran out of chili powder and improvised. The Aleppo pepper flavor with the feta? Not at all southwestern but very, very great.
When I ate my first bites of this meal in a bowl, the word sumptuous came to my mind. The creaminess of the sheep’s milk feta and avocado was so wonderful against the spiciness and texture of the grains. I don’t often call vegetarian food decadent, but this was certainly over the top!
Southwestern style quinoa
Adapted from Quinoa with Black Beans & Cilantro, Sept 2008 Bon Appétit
This recipe serves 4 -6.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained*
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (if you can’t find this, substitute a second tsp chili powder).
½ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups vegetable stock
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce can corn, drained
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped cilantro (about a ¼ cup, divided)
Chopped tomato (1 large tomato, divided)
crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese (around ¼-½ cup divided)
Avocado, cubed (1 avocado, divided)
* To rinse quinoa, pour the grain into a sieve nested in a bowl. Run water through the grain until the bowl is full of water. Use a spoon to mix the grains. Lift the sieve to drain and pour water from the bowl. The water will look viscous and a little cloudy. Repeat this process a few more times until the water runs clear. Quinoa is full of bitter saponins. Rinsing well will remove the bitterness.
Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper; sauté 8-10 minutes until the onions begin to brown a little. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Stir in quinoa, chili powder, Aleppo pepper, cumin, cayenne and salt. Add vegetable stock; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is almost tender, about 14 minutes. Add beans, corn and 1/4 cup cilantro; cook uncovered until heated through and liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes. Squeeze lime juice into quinoa and mix well. Transfer to bowls; Top with everything in the garnish list.