I have four sisters, but none of them live in the same state as I do. Heather is the one you’d want to decorate your house, or make you a perfect cup of coffee. Sarada is the one you’d turn to for legal advice, and makes things simple when we’re all trying to be too complicated. Heidi can tell you anything you want to know about horses, and she gives the best shoulder rub. Hayley has the perfect accessory for any of your fashion woes, and she always cleans up my kitchen messes, so she might be my favorite to cook for! That’s my role. The maker of food. I count it a high compliment when I walk into one of my sister’s houses and they have ripe avocados, lime and garlic waiting for me on the counter. “Make us guacamole?!”
When I told my sisters I was planning to start a food blog, one of them suggested I have a category called “Even my sisters can make it” so they’d know right where to go for recipes. The more I thought about it, the more I loved it! What I’ll include in this category will be simple dinners that don’t require foreign ingredients, and are easy to throw together. (Plenty of other categories on this site, like smoothies and snacks are easy too, but I’ll reserve this category for food you could put on the dinner table.) I could happily spend my entire day in the kitchen, testing new recipes and having something going on all four burners with dessert baking in the oven, but this does not describe my sisters. They want recipes that aren’t too complicated, are pretty healthy for you and don’t require four pans and three bowls. If this sounds like you too, take note of this category!
1 1/2 c. quinoa
3 c. water or vegetable stock (I prefer 1 1/2 c. of each)
1 can black beans (15 oz)
1 c. corn – ideally fresh, but frozen or canned works too
1 colored pepper (I like orange for the color)
1 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
3 scallions, green and white parts, sliced
spinach, to serve
cotija cheese, to top (optional)
1 – 2 avocado, to top (not optional)
1/3 c. olive oil
juice of one lime, about 2 TBSP
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 shallot, diced
1/4 c. cilantro
freshly ground pepper
Rinse your quinoa and put it in a pot large enough to hold the grain and 3 cups of liquid. You could use all water or all vegetable stock; my personal preference is 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of stock. Bring the quinoa and liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. It will take about 15 minutes for the quinoa to cook, giving you time to get everything else ready. Give it an occasional stir as you chop.
Open your can of black beans and rinse thoroughly, then toss them in a large bowl. If you happen to have freshly cooked corn on hand, that’s ideal, but you can use frozen by thawing it, or canned. You could also omit this if you don’t want to mess with it. Dice one good-sized colored pepper, and put that in the bowl with the beans and corn. Cut grape or cherry tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on the size, and add that to the bowl. Slice scallions and add them too.
Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, fresh lime juice, red wine vinegar, cumin, chili powder (ancho is fantastic here if you have it), sea salt, pepper, cilantro and shallot. Make sure you are just using clean cilantro leaves, and not stems. Pulling the leaves off the stems is a kid-friendly job if you have someone wanting to play sous chef!
When the quinoa is done, remove from heat, cover and let it stand for 5 minutes. You’ll know the quinoa is done when you see tiny spirals (the germ) curling around the seed. This should give you time to dice avocado or finish anything else you haven’t already. When the 5 minutes are up, fluff the quinoa and add it the bowl with veggies. Pour in the dressing, coating all quinoa and veggies. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve by putting a bed of spinach on each person’s plate, a portion of the southwest quinoa, a sprinkle of cotija cheese if you have it and a generous amount of fresh avocado. Do not skimp on the avocado!