Friday, September 28, 2012

Vegetarian Mexican Quiona and Bean Pilaf!

Last night I was craving Mexican food in a major way, but really couldn't justify all of that heavy, greasy food. So I lightened it up, while keeping all the flavors of the Mexican food I love! This dish is vegetarian, but add some ground beef or grilled chicken if you want!

This recipe uses quinoa, which has gotten a lot of press lately. It's similar to rice, but it's actually a seed that sprouts when you cook it. What makes quinoa amazing is that it's not only tasty, it also has more protein than any other grain! It actually provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein unlike similar foods like rice. That's why nutritionists consider it a super food! Quinoa is also gluten free, so this dish is pretty safe to serve to anyone. (Just check your friends' dairy preferences before adding the cheese).

Here's The Skinny: Each serving has only 400 calories!


(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bell peppers, 1 yellow and 1 red, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
2 scallions, whites and greens divided
1 white onion, diced
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs discarded unless you want it spicy!
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup quinoa
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tomatoes, diced, seeds discarded
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the peppers, scallions whites, onion, and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2) Add the garlic, jalapeno, and tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a deep red color.
3) Add the quinoa, black beans, salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. You may need to add more water, depending on if the quinoa has all sprouted.
4) Once most of the water is absorbed, remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the tomatoes, baby spinach, cilantro, half of the cheese, and half of the scallion greens, until the spinach has wilted.
5) Split between 4 plates, and sprinkle with the remaining scallions and cheese.


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