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Delectable Mexican-style Quinoa recipe

December 27, 2011

Well, I ate entirely too much over the Christmas holiday. On such unspeakable items as a dip consisting of two kinds of cheese to multiple slices of chess pie, I overindulged.
And, sadly, I’m about to head off to Nashville for the Music City Bowl, where I can say with serious conviction that we’ll not be stopping by any health food stores along the way.
So I decided to spend this window of time between Christmas and the bowl trip eating as healthily as possible in a feeble attempt to detox. Now, any deer my father has killed in the past 20 years would wholeheartedly tell you that I am not at all a vegetarian, but I do keep a vegetarian cookbook on hand for times like these when I need to lighten up my diet.
Perhaps my favorite vegetarian meals come with a south-of-the-border flair. I routinely order vegetable-only dishes at Mexican restaurants because I love the taste of warm, spicy, sauteed vegetables and rice. That is, of course, if I don’t fill up on the chips and salsa first.
In my little cookbook I found a recipe for Mexican-Style Quinoa that looked wonderful and easy. Underneath the title was a paragraph describing it as having the taste of “delicious fresh salsa,” so without much further thought I darted to the store for the ingredients.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinoa (I knew what it was but had never cooked or eaten it before), quinoa is like a combination of oatmeal and brown rice. It’s creamy and crunchy and has a bit of a nutty taste. While most people consider quinoa to be a grain, it’s actually in the same family as some leafy green veggies such as spinach and Swiss chard. It’s a healthy carbohydrate. (Those exist? Yes!)
Delicious is a word that barely does justice to how good this recipe was; additionally, the preparation was effortless. I ate it with some hot braided bread, and it was even good the next day served cold.
Easy and good are my two major requirements for a “keeper” recipe, and in light of how whipped we all are from the holidays, I thought I’d share this uncomplicated concoction.
I wish you all a happy, healthy new year, and go Dawgs!
Mexican-Style Quinoa
u 1 tsp olive oil
u 1 red onion, diced
u 3 cloves garlic, minced
u 3/4 c. uncooked quinoa
u 1 1/2 c. broth (I use chicken broth)
u 1 tsp cumin
u 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
u 1 cup frozen sweet corn
u 2 roma tomatoes, diced
u 1 T lime juice
u 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
u 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in saucepan. Stir in onion and garlic. Mix in quinoa and cover with broth. Add spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in corn, simmer five more minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with feta.

Kate Salter is a lecturer at Mississippi State University. Email her at kbsalter@gmail.com.

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