One Pan Tex-Mex Quinoa

By Ann Fulton

This one-pan, plant-based meal is wonderfully light yet loaded with filling, nutrition-dense ingredients. It's easy to make--and the flavor will keep you coming back for more! 
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Pantry staples make this filling, flavorful, plant-based meal a weeknight win – and there’s no need to pre-cook the quinoa! 

 

Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes. 

For your daily dose of trivia, I’ll also mention that this idiom came from William Cowper’s 1875 poem entitled “The Task,” and the full line reads: “Variety is the spice of life, which gives it all its flavor.”

In the meal department, trying new cuisines and experimenting with different ingredients can add literal and figurative spice to one’s cooking. 

But you need not seek out hard-to-find ingredients and complex recipes to add variety to the weekly lineup. Simply trying a savory breakfast when you typically wake up to something sweet or ordering seafood at a restaurant instead of a go-to burger may offer a welcome change–and even create new appreciation for the old favorites when you return to them. 

Swapping a frequently used grain, like rice, for a less commonly chosen option, like quinoa, is another easy way to add variety in flavor, texture, and nutrients at mealtime. 

Pantry staples make this filling, flavorful, plant-based meal a weeknight win – and there's no need to pre-cook the quinoa! 

The following one-pot recipe combines this ancient grain (botanically speaking, quinoa is technically a seed) with basic pantry staples and south-of-the-border spices for an easy meal with broad appeal.

Though it’s meatless and can easily be made vegan with the use of vegetable instead of chicken broth, this meal has staying power thanks to the fiber and protein supplied by the quinoa and black beans.

Colorful vegetables add visual appeal, and conveniently, most of the ingredients are economical pantry staples. As always, there are options, which I’ve included just below the main recipe. 

My family will tell you that their favorite is a side of tortilla chips for scooping or a handful crumbled overtop. I love them for crunch too, and I would add creamy avocado (followed by cheese) to my list of favorites. They add a binding element to the loose grains along with wholesome fats, which make the dish even more satisfying. 

Pantry staples make this filling, flavorful, plant-based meal a weeknight win – and there's no need to pre-cook the quinoa! 

This isn’t the prettiest picture, but it illustrates what the recipe will look like once the tomatoes, beans, corn, and broth are added. As the mixture cooks, the quinoa will soften, puff up, and absorb the excess liquid–and all will be well.

 
This one-pan, plant-based meal is wonderfully light yet loaded with filling, nutrition-dense ingredients. It's easy to make--and the flavor will keep you coming back for more! 

A mostly hands-off meal that will be on the table in about 30 minutes, this one-pan meal relies on economical pantry ingredients and can be spruced up with a few fresh toppings–and the quinoa need not be pre-cooked.

One Pan Tex-Mex Quinoa
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Pantry staples make this filling, flavorful, plant-based meal a weeknight win – and there's no need to pre-cook the quinoa. 

If using frozen corn, it need not be thawed. Simply add it to the colander and rinse along with the beans.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon (14ml) olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup (188g) quinoa, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 cup (240ml) chicken broth (sub vegetable broth for vegetarian or vegan meal)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies or fire-roasted tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned, or fresh
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (I use about ¾ and ¼ teaspoon, respectively)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (plus optional wedges for serving)
  • Optional toppings/extras: 1 avocado, diced or sliced; a handful of tortilla chips, crumbled; ¾-1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese; a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, or more to taste
Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large (10- to 12-inch), lidded skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and lightly golden, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and coriander, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the quinoa and sauté for a minute or so, stirring to coat with the spices. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, and corn; season with salt and pepper, to taste. (I add ¾ of a teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.) Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa is just tender, about 20 minutes. (Taste for doneness a few minutes early and allow for an extra few minutes depending on precise level of heat.)
Finishing touches: Stir in the lime juice and optional cilantro, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If using, sprinkle with the cheese and replace the lid for a minute or two to melt. Sprinkle with other toppings of choice, or allow diners to add their favorites upon serving.
Storage: Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and the flavor improves with age. Feel free to add an extra squeeze of lime juice too. If you expect leftovers, for best texture I recommend adding the avocado and tortilla chips to individual servings only.

Options

• Add crunch: My family loves to eat this dish topped with crumbled tortilla chips or served with a handful of whole chips for scooping. The last time we ate this meal, my husband suggested serving the quinoa over a bed of crumbled chips or in a taco bowl–which made me think of serving it on a tostada, perhaps with a layer of refried beans or guacamole underneath.
• Like garlic? Add 2 minced cloves garlic along with the spices.
• Not an onion fan? The onion adds good flavor, but you may omit if not a fan or in a hurry. Alternatively, you could sprinkle the finished dish with sliced green onions.
• Want to spice it up? Add 1 minced jalapeño or serrano pepper (I seed and devein half for a medium level of spiciness) along with the spices. Alternatively, you could add ⅛-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper with the other spices, garnish with thinly sliced hot peppers, or serve with hot sauce on the side.
• Looking to increase veggies? Sauté some diced bell pepper along with the onion and/or include a variety of the optional toppings, like fresh tomatoes and avocado.

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Recipe adapted from Cook Like a Champion

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Comments

  1. renee

    Made this One Pan Tex Mex Quinoa today and it was delicious – and exactly the kind of fast I needed after having spent hours with the Apple Help Desk right when I should have been fixing lunch. I cook whole cups of quinoa (most any grain or bean, really) whenever I need some and put any extra amount in the freezer – usually in the empty bag it came in so it doesn’t need labelling. So I had plenty of cooked quinoa on hand today when I started and didn’t need the broth. Since our eating plan calls for each of us to consume 3, 1/2 cup servings each of both whole grains and legumes per day, I added cooked split red lentils to the recipe. My only other change was to serve it wrapped in cabbage leaves (like tacos) which provided that vegetable along with plenty of crunch. Great for a Saturday lunch. Thank you for a great recipe that I will keep in my “quick” file and use often.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Renee, I’m thrilled that you made the quinoa and loved it and feel your pain regarding the help desk. Tech issues are frustrating and always seem to require a lot of wait time. Thanks for mentioning your additions and the great tip about freezing in the package bag.

      Reply