This fail-proof one-pan Mexican quinoa is the perfect weeknight dinner, ready in just 30 minutes. If you love Mexican food, you have to try it!
If thinking about black beans, juicy tomatoes, crunchy sweet corn, and creamy avocados makes you drool, you are in the right place!
I made this Mexican quinoa the other day. The sky was so blue, and the sun was finally warm enough that Dan and I decided to eat in the garden.
I didn’t have much time to cook. I needed something I could throw together in a few minutes. Something that I could easily pack to bring outside. Something warm and spicy that will fill me up with goodness.
Nothing better than some Mexican flavors combined with some protein-packed quinoa.
Plus, I have a confession to make: I am not a big fan of leftovers. This means that I much rather have fresh meals every day if I have enough time.
But from time to time, I put together recipes that are perfect for eating even a couple of days later and still taste amazing. And this Mexican quinoa is one of them!
Believe it or not, you can meal prep this in advance, and it’s even better if you let it sit in the fridge for a day or two as the flavors get time to melt together.
What ingredients do I need to make Mexican quinoa?
The great thing about this recipe is that there isn’t much prep time and chopping. You just have to crush the garlic, dice the avocado, rinse the beans, and you are pretty much ready to go.
You will need:
- Water (or vegetable broth)
- Olive Oil
- Black Beans
- Chopped tomatoes
- The juice of 1 lime
- Fresh cilantro leaves
How to cook Mexican Quinoa
- First, you need to saute the minced garlic in a bit of olive oil with the cumin, then add the black beans, corn, chopped tomatoes (or tomato sauce), jalapenos, and quinoa.
- After a minute, add the water (or vegetable broth) and bring it to a boil. Then cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, you can dice the avocado.
- Then remove it from the heat, and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes. Resting allows the quinoa to become nice and fluffy whilst absorbing more flavors from the other ingredients.
- Before serving, add the fresh chopped cilantro and diced avocado. Plus, a juicy lime wedge on each plate to add a bit of tanginess.
I prefer to eat my Mexican quinoa warm, but it’s great cold as well, especially in the summer.
Extra tips to make Mexican Quinoa
Believe it or not, there are over 100 types of quinoa. I used white quinoa for this recipe, but a mix of any type of quinoa is good. Just check your quinoa’s cooking time and taste it to make sure it’s cooked throughout.
When I normally cook quinoa, I use 1 part uncooked quinoa and 2 parts water. But, as this recipe contains 1 can of tomatoes, you need less liquid to reach the perfect consistency, which is why I use 1 part of uncooked quinoa and 1 part of water.
Water or vegetable broth?
I normally use water when I cook my quinoa, but if you want to add a bit more depth of flavor, vegetable broth is a great alternative.
Do you need to rinse Quinoa before cooking?
Most recipes mention rinsing quinoa before cooking it because quinoa grains are coated with a substance called saponin, which can taste a bit soapy or bitter to some people.
If you are sensitive to it, make sure to rinse your quinoa under running water for at least a couple of minutes.
Plus, a lot of quinoa sold these days has been pre-rinsed. Checking your package can help you save time.
I used cumin in this recipe, but you can substitute it for dry coriander (also known as cilantro and a Mexican favorite). Other great spices to use in this recipe, depending on how spicy you like your food, are chili powder or paprika.
Did you know?
Cumin was actually discovered in the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia regions and introduced to Mexico by the Spanish. It’s normally used in most red chile sauces, including enchilada sauce
How to meal prep Mexican Quinoa
I love using quinoa in meal prep recipes. It keeps its consistency well for a few days in the fridge.
If you want to meal prep this Mexican quinoa recipe, simply follow all the steps, and once ready, store it in airtight meal prep containers like these ones.
If you plan to keep quinoa in the fridge for over 2 days, you should not add the diced avocado. It’s better if you add it the night before eating it or slice it on top in the morning to avoid it going brown.
If you follow this step, you can keep this quinoa in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Yes, you can cook this quinoa in advance and freeze it. Whenever you need it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. You can either eat it cold or warm it up for 30-40 seconds in a microwave.
Not really! Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America. And believe it or not, it was first used to feed livestock. It’s only about 3-4 thousand years ago that we (humans) started to consume it.
Mexican quinoa can be spicy, but it really depends on the amount of chili and other spices used. In this recipe I only added one jalapeno pepper, which makes it quite mild. You can use more spicy ingredients like cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or chipotle peppers. Or, if you are sensitive to spice, simply adjust the amount of chili and other spices to your taste.
Mexican quinoa is a healthy and nutritious dish. Quinoa is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber, and plenty of nutrients like iron and magnesium. It is also gluten-free, making it a good choice for people with gluten sensitivities. Adding Mexican-inspired flavors like tomatoes, beans, corn and spices give it plenty of extra nutritious plant-base goodness. Just make sure not to add an excessive amount of salt and oil to keep it as healthy as possible.
Why I Love This Easy Mexican Quinoa
- It comes together in just 30 minutes. And it honestly takes less than 10 minutes to prep: the rest is about you waiting for it to cook!
- You can cook everything in one pan, which means less washing up.
- It’s perfect on its own for a plant-based meal, but it’s delicious as a side dish too.
If you try this Mexican Quinoa recipe, let me know in the comments how much you liked it!
One-Pan Mexican Quinoa
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water - (or vegetable broth)
- 1 can black beans - drained and rinsed (15-ounce)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes - (15-ounce)
- 1 cup corn - (frozen, canned, or roasted)
- 1 jalapeno - sliced
- A pinch of salt - to taste
- 1 lime - cut into wedges
- 1 avocado
- Some chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan or skillet to medium-high heat.
- Add the minced garlic and cumin. Stir for about 1 minute.
- Add the drained and rinsed black beans, chopped tomatoes, corn, chopped jalapenos, and quinoa, and stir well. After about a minute, add the cup of water and season with salt.
- Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes (until the quinoa is cooked).
- In the meantime, dice the avocado.
- After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, and let it rest, still covered for 5 minutes.
- Add the fresh chopped cilantro and the diced avocado and stir well.
- Serve with lime wedges.
Serving sizeIf you are going to eat this Mexican Quinoa as a side, this quantity can easily serve 4-6 people. But if you are going to eat this as a main (like we do), this quantity serves 2-3 people max.
Water or vegetable broth?I normally use water when I cook my quinoa, but if you want to add a bit more depth of flavor, vegetable broth is a great alternative.
SpicesI used cumin in this recipe, but you can substitute that for dry coriander (also known as cilantro and a Mexican favorite). Other great additions are chili powder or paprika.
Can you freeze Mexican Quinoa?Yes, you can cook this quinoa in advance and freeze it. Whenever you need it, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. You can either eat it cold or warm it up for 30-40 seconds in a microwave.
Did you make this recipe? Tag @gatheringdreams on Instagram. I want to see it!