The definition of delicious

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

Garnish with:

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.



  1. drfugawe said,

    May 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Hey girl,
    welcome back! This one looks good – I bet it can be cooled down and served as a cold salad on a hot day too – however, doesn’t look like we’re ever going to have a hot day up this way.

    (hey, go back to your instructions and add the quinoa to your pan – good girl)

    • Mimi said,

      May 21, 2010 at 10:46 am

      I’ll give you my hot windy weather. Especially the windy part. 😀

      Thanks for the good catch, it just wouldn’t be quinoa without the quinoa, lol!

  2. Nicole said,

    May 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    I love taking these kind of salads to work. I think I will give this one a try next week. It looks perfect.

  3. Jeanne said,

    May 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    It sounds like there are a lot of flavors going on in this dish! And it all sounds great! Quinoa has been my favorite grain for a while now, but I don’t make it as often as I’d like to since my boyfriend isn’t a huge fan of it. Perhaps if I rinsed it more thoroughly it would taste better to him…I didn’t know about the saponins.

  4. chelsl said,

    May 21, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Wow, that does look delicious! I love quinoa and would eat it all the time if my housemates liked it a bit more. Even just the toppings in this picture make me salivate: avocado, feta, cilantro… how could you go wrong? Thanks for the recipe!

  5. May 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I think that I can relate to this…aleppo pepper? I have never heard of it… but your description of this dish has me abslutely captivated. I must make it, this the pepper question.!

    • Mimi said,

      May 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      Hi Valerie,
      Aleppo pepper is used in middle eastern and greek cooking. If you have a market that sells these kinds of ethnic foods go there to see if you can get some. If not, just use another teaspoon of chili powder. The dish will still turn out amazing without it. The Aleppo pepper just added a smoky sort of dimension to the flavor.

  6. May 22, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Sounds really good. I haven’t tried cooking with quinoa yet. They are available in my area, but I haven’t decided what exactly I’d like to do with it yet, so every quinoa recipe is useful. 🙂

  7. Joanne said,

    May 22, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I love quinoa! This looks like one seriously tasty and colorful dish. I’ve made something like it with some mango thrown into the mix. Good stuff.

  8. Emily Martin said,

    May 22, 2010 at 8:58 am

    We have had our first few days of real summery weather here in the UK and right about now, there’s not much that sounds better to eat than this salad.
    It’s beautiful too!

  9. Anet said,

    May 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Oh, this recipe sounds like ones I’ve made with brown rice or couscous, or who-knows-what-other grain. Thanks for reminding me what a great one it is.

  10. Madam Chow said,

    May 26, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I’ve been looking for a new quinoa recipe, and this looks fabulous!

    And thanks for visiting my blog while I’ve been dealing with blogging issues! Yes, my two Cavaliers, Gus and Daisy, are my sweet pups!

  11. Andreas said,

    May 31, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I guess quinoa is delicious by any definition.
    Maybe one could increase the sumptuousness by using goat’s milk feta. 🙂

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