No chopping or sautéing, no cutting boards or mixing bowls to wash…this one-pan Mexican quinoa is SO easy to make. Just dump everything in the pan, let it cook, and enjoy!
I like going out to eat, but I really love staying in and cooking. This semester, a couple of friends and I started a Sunday night tradition of cooking dinner together. They live together in a house right off-campus, so I usually go to them since they have a kitchen to themselves and I share a dorm kitchen with 50 other girls!
We all love fresh, healthy foods, and one friend is a vegetarian, so we usually cook healthy vegetarian meals together. So far, we’ve gone with a beans, greens, & grain theme each week!
For example, for our first dinner, we made really yummy Buddha bowls with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, quinoa, and roasted chickpeas/black beans.
We started texting last Saturday about ideas for what to make that Sunday, and I found a basic recipe for Mexican quinoa. It looked inexpensive and simple, which are my two essential criteria for college cooking.
We had most of the ingredients on hand already, and I stopped by the grocery store on Sunday afternoon to pick up quinoa, lime, and corn, plus an avocado to make guacamole.
When I arrived, we just added everything to the skillet and then played a couple rounds of cards while we waited for dinner to be ready. The original recipe we found didn’t include any spices, and the water to quinoa ratio was a bit off, so we ended up adapting the recipe to come up with our own version.
Before digging in, we topped our Mexican quinoa bowls with guacamole, salsa, lots of cheese, and plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream since that’s what we had. We all loved it!
I knew I wanted to re-make this one-pan Mexican quinoa to take notes on what we did and take a few photos to share on the blog, so I made it again this weekend in my dorm kitchen. I didn’t mind eating it two weekends in a row one bit.
Since then, I’ve ended up loving this Mexican quinoa for weekend meal prep! Since there’s no meat, it tastes just as fresh and delicious on Day #5 as it does on Day #1.
I pack a big serving of Mexican quinoa in a glass Tupperware container and top it with a sprinkle of cheese and a spoonful of salsa, and then either heat it up at school or eat it cold for convenience. I’ve also skipped the cheese in order to pack it for a day-long hike when I knew my food would be out of the fridge for quite a while. Either way, it’s delicious!
A few tips for Making Mexican Quinoa:
• The amount of water required for the quinoa may vary a bit depending on how much juice is in your can of diced tomatoes, so add an additional splash of water to your quinoa while it’s cooking if needed.
• Check on the quinoa at the halfway point and when it’s almost done cooking and add more water if needed. Draining extra water at the end is much easier than scraping burnt quinoa off the bottom of the pan if your stove is a bit hot and the water runs out!
• Be sure to use diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes. I’ve made the mistake of switching the two, and it wasn’t the end of the world, but they’re a different consistency. Crushed tomatoes have a similar consistency to pasta sauce, while diced tomatoes are chunks of tomatoes.
• You can cook quinoa in vegetable broth for more flavor, but I used water each time and it was still delicious! Feel free to use whatever you have.
• Dried cilantro works great! However, if I do happen to be going to the store anyway, I consider fresh herbs one “luxury” item in my low-maintenance college girl kitchen. And at $.60 for a bunch of cilantro at my grocery store, it’s a pretty inexpensive luxury 😉
• The toppings really make this dish, so don’t skip those! I used sliced avocado for the photos, but I actually ended up adding cheese, salsa, guacamole, and plain Greek yogurt/sour cream.
If you try out this one-pan Mexican quinoa, feel free to let me know in a comment or take a picture and tag me @livbane on Instagram. Hope you enjoy!
Five-Ingredient One-Pan Mexican Quinoa
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapeños or fire-roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
- 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 15 oz. can corn, drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Spices to taste: I used 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, & 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Toppings: guacamole, salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cheese, etc.
- Add quinoa, water, and diced tomatoes to a medium skillet or saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil and reduce heat to simmer on medium-low, for 12-18 minutes or until quinoa is done (it "pops" open) and liquid is absorbed. Add an additional splash of water while cooking, if needed.
- Stir in black beans, corn, lime juice, and spices to taste.
- Spoon into bowls and serve warm with guacamole, salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cheese, etc.
- Store leftovers in fridge for up to five days and serve warm or cold.
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