I remember the first time I ever tried quinoa. Years ago before I ever went gluten free, I read a story in a magazine about this “new” super grain that we all should be eating on a daily basis. I found some instant quinoa breakfast cereal at a grocery store and gave it a shot. EW. I think it was more like quinoa powder with sugar and artificial apple cinnamon flavor. It was an uninspiring bowl of brown mush. No thank you.
I finally tried it again after going gluten free. Here and there, I would encounter it at friend’s houses when they tried to figure out something to feed me that was gluten free. I didn’t want to be rude and say “NOOOOO anything but quinoa!” so I shut up and ate it. And it was great (for the most part!). I enjoyed the various fruited, veggied, stuffed-in-things varieties I had, prepared by my loving and understanding friends.
Did you know that quinoa isn’t really a grain at all, but is related most closely to leafy greens like beets, spinach and tumbleweed? Weird. It is also what nutritionists refer to as a “complete protein”, meaning that it contains a balance of amino acids, which is rare in a plant. Oh quinoa. You amazingly weird plant, you.
So I am finally giving you all a basic quinoa recipe. Finally. I am trying to branch out a little here from baked goods (although I have a KILLER lemon tea bread for you all tomorrow…oops). My mom has really been cooking most of my meals since I’ve been living at home, so I haven’t had as much of a chance to share any new recipes.
Next time I make this really great dish (and I will for the next potluck I go to!), I would tweak the dressing a little more with some extra lime juice and add some cotilljo cheese to pump it up! Also loved the idea in the comments to include avocado or some spicy chicken or sausage to this. I enjoy this dish as a side or as a main course (the beans give it a ton of protein), and I really like it at room temp or warm, it loosens up all the flavors and the textures!
Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa with Cumin Lime Dressing
Adapted from Epicurious.com
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tsp ground red chipotle
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced( NOTE: it’s so important to use really REALLY good tomatoes for this. If you’re making this out of tomato season, I would use canned diced tomatoes)
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, cumin, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve with very very small holes or a larger one lined with cheesecloth.
Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. You can top this with cheese, salsa, extra lime juice, meats…anything at all! or just eat as is :)