Black Bean and Vegetable Quinoa

A friend of mine was recently telling me about a quinoa dish that he makes. He gave me the recipe and I tried it out. It tastes great and it is healthy. What more can you ask! His recipe is below:

-Patrick

Black Bean and Vegetable Quinoa

So four years ago, I came across my friend eating this yellow grainy-type meal that was just mixed with water and microwaved. That was my first encounter with quinoa. I tried a spoonful of the stuff and it tasted rather bland, it wasn’t a spectacular first impression. But when he told me more about it, I become intrigued to learn more of this…”quinoa” (pronounced “keen-wa”).

A plant native to the Andes mountains, quinoa is advertised for being one of very few plant foods that is a complete protein source, which means it contains all the essential amino acids needed for humans. This is great news for vegans! And quinoa is not in the grain family, so it’s gluten-free!

To counter all the hype, the complete protein claim is not without a paper or two saying otherwise. However it is generally agreed to be a great source of essential amino acids. And although it doesn’t top beans in protein content, it’s pretty darn close.

So. Quinoa. I thought it was worth trying because it seems to be a very healthy food choice. And it would make a great pot-luck meal that everyone can enjoy; I have a couple of friends who were gluten-intolerant and as a biology graduate I always have a fair share of friends who are vegan (or at least always know some people trying to go vegan). The only thing was figuring out how to make the quinoa not taste so bland.

I did some research and came across this recipe. After cooking the recipe several times, I ended up experimenting and eventually compiled this highly vegetable diverse dish below:

Black Bean and Vegetable Quinoa
 
A delicious medley of black beans, vegetables, and quinoa.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small potato or half of a large potato
  • 1 tsp-1 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 0.75 cup of quinoa
  • 1.5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • several sprinkles of italian seasoning
  • 1 can of beans
  • 1 cup of mixed vegetables (frozen mixed veggies)
  • ¼ to 1 cup of chopped spinach
  • ½ to 1 whole avocado, sliced
Instructions
  1. Rinse the quinoa (you know it's rinsed well when it stops bubbling when shaken in water).
  2. Chop up garlic cloves and onion. Slice the potato into thin slices. Cook garlic, onion, and potato on oiled pan under medium heat until onion and garlic are lightly brown. Stir occasionally while it's cooking.
  3. When onions and garlic are cooked, add quinoa, vegetable broth,italian seasoning, and cumin with garlic, onions, and potatoes. Stir and raise heat to high.
  4. Once the quinoa/broth starts to boil, lower heat to simmer or low/medium, depending on the stove. It is optional to put a lid on the quinoa while it simmers. Putting a lid on it will ensure that everything cooks evenly (you won't get the occasional crunchy uncooked quinoa seed in your mouth). However it prevents evaporation and might keep the quinoa soggy, which may be inconvenient if you don't prefer that or you don't have extra time to cook it longer. Let the quinoa cook for 20 minutes on average. In the meantime have beans rinsed and vegetables ready.
  5. After the quinoa/broth is cooked, add the beans and mixed vegetables, chopped spinach, and avocado. Let it cook on low for another 5-10 minutes. It is recommended to put a lid over the food at this point to ensure the vegetables are thoroughly heated.
Notes
When cooking with quinoa, it's important to rinse it beforehand. Quinoa naturally possesses a layer of saponin, which deters some animals in the wild from eating them. The saponin can give quinoa a bitter taste and if you ever happen to consume copious amounts of unwashed quinoa, the saponin can have a laxative effect. When you rinse the quinoa, you may notice the "soapy" bubbles of the saponin. Keep rinsing the quinoa until the water's not so bubbly.

 

The trickiest part is getting the moisture of the quinoa just right – not too dry, but not too soggy. This recipe goes well with a side of chicken or fish.

-Eddie Ramirez