I’m a huge fan of Mexican food…pretty much anything with coriander and lime gets a thumbs up from me…add avocado into the mix and I’m in heaven! However I used to always associate this type of cuisine with heavy, carb-rich foods such as fajitas or quesedilla’s which are so yummy but not something I would necessarily consider healthy due to all of the processed dips, cheese and white wraps.
I wanted to incorporate the freshness of those flavours into something lighter, more nutritionally dense and less processed. So mexican quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) was the answer!
Quinoa is a such an amazing thing to cook with as it’s so versatile, you certainly aren’t going to buy it for one recipe and then never use it again… and with its neutral flavour it can be used with virtually any herbs and spices! It’s also available in many supermarkets, usually in the whole-foods isle so it’s not difficult to get hold of these days. Depending on where you shop the price can vary slightly but from Sainsbury’s a 300g bag is £1.80 and that will easily give you 6 servings, we usually get 4 good sized dinner portions and 2 slightly smaller lunch portions as left overs so its pretty good value for how far it will go!
Quinoa originates from the Andes and was a staple part of the diet, often referred to as the “gold of the Inca’s” due to its high nutritional value. Commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed of a grain so is suitable for those following a Paleo diet and as their bitter coating is removed when harvested this makes it easier to digest. It’s also a brilliant source of protein which is good for vegetarians, vegans and for those who may want to cut down on their meat intake but still keep their protein levels up. The seeds actually contain all of the 9 essential amino acids which the body can’t produce itself – making it a complete protein.
In my post “good fat – made easy” I mentioned how good fats fight inflammation which can negatively impact your cells and the immune system. Quinoa contains these healthy mono-unsaturated fats that help to do this and they also contain a high level of manganese which is needed to keep bones and blood healthy.
Although the name might be hard to get your head around it’s so easy to cook so please don’t be afraid! It’s very similar to rice, give it a rinse and then cook your chosen quantity in double the amount of boiling water for 20 minutes.
The below recipe can be altered to your taste and to what you have in your cupboards but one thing you definitely need is the smoked paprika! This is a simple one pot dish packed full of flavour and involves very little washing up! It’s got a combination of Mexican and spanish flavours, so if you love tapas or paella then this is for you and it’s suitable for vegans!
- Quinoa x 150g
- Passata x 390 (or you could use a can of chopped tomatoes)
- Garlic x 2 cloves
- Red Onion x 1 large
- Sweetcorn x 1/2 cup can be fresh or frozen
- Peas x 1/2 cup – can be fresh or frozen (if either are frozen they don’t need to be defrosted!)
- Pepper x 1 (optional)
- Fresh Coriander x 1 handful roughly chopped with stalks
- Avocado x 1 chopped into small chunks
- Black eyed beans x 1 can drained
- Vegetable stock cube – try to get the lowest sodium you can find in 200ml of boiling water
- Juice of 1 Lime
- Smoked Paprika X 3-4 tsp
- 1 tsp of Cumin
- salt and pepper to season
- Finely chop the onion, pepper and garlic
- Sautee the onion and garlic in a pan over a medium heat
- Once they are soft, add the pepper and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
- Pour the quinoa into a sieve and rinse with water then add to the pan along with the passata
- When the quinoa is fully coated in the passata add the peas, sweetcorn, smoked paprika, cumin and black eyed beans along with the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper
- Turn the heat up high for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly and then reduce back down to a medium heat for a further 10 minutes
- Add the chopped coriander, the lime juice and stir well. Check at this point to see if you need any extra paprika… you honestly can’t have too much in this dish!
- Finally add the chopped avocado into the quinoa a couple of minutes before serving so that it still retains it’s consistency but is heated through…or if you prefer serve on the side with a wedge of lime!