Monday dinner: Quinoa burrito bowls (and the debut of Meatless Monday)

UPDATE: Al Dente’s Binghamton Canandaigua bureau chief Brian Moritz reports that his Wegmans carries store-brand freshly made pico de gallo. Very disappointing.

Meatless Monday has become a national movement backed by the geniuses at Johns Hopkins University in an effort to reduce our overall consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol. It has its roots during those skirmishes in the early to mid 1900s, where Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt and Truman asked Americans to go meatless one day a week to make sure we could feed our soldiers abroad. Or something like that.

(Tangent: We can get into the politics of this, but I don’t believe that food should be political. It should be safe. It should be accessible. It should be served to politicians. It shouldn’t be a political statement. There are too many people who lack access to quality fresh food. A 12-week per year farmer’s market in a Northeast city is a nice gesture, but is a fingertip bandage on a fissure. If people are hot to make a political statement about food, they should try fixing that.)

For our purposes, Meatless Monday is not going to be a grand statement. It’s my challenge to reach out and try new things that are healthy, and approach the stove without a chicken thigh, pork tenderloin or other piece of animal flesh in hand.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

***

Entry one is a take on the faux Chipotle burrito bowl I made a while back. Instead of rice, we used quinoa. The results were equally as good. The little protein-packed pearls absorbed the lime and cilantro nicely. As a topping, I went with a Wholly Guacamole-Greek yogurt blend (7 oz. guac to 3 oz. yogurt), cilantro, shredded cheddar, salsa and crushed blue tortilla chips, but really anything goes here.

WHAT WORKED: The quinoa made a nice substitution for rice. It brought all of the protein I was looking for and didn’t vary much in flavor from the basamati I would have ordinarily used.

WHAT DIDN’T: The salsa. Wegmans REALLY needs to work on a fresh pico de gallo.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is different. It’s good.” She didn’t have a lot to offer tonight. Her deal with The Kid to let her watch Elmo while eating backfired amazingly.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes, but I will likely cut back the quinoa content and add meat. Yeah, I know…purpose defeated.

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Quinoa black bean burrito bowls
From The Shiksa In The Kitchen

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (mild)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (spicy)
  • One packet of Goya Sazon with Culantro and Tomato
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • Salt

Optional toppings

  • Grated cheddar or jack cheese
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Pico de gallo or salsa
  • Diced seeded tomatoes
  • Hot sauce or sriracha
  • Sliced avocado
  • Guacamole
  • Corn

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a mesh strainer or sieve, drain. Pour quinoa into a saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot. Let the quinoa simmer for about 20 minutes till it becomes tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Keep a close eye to make sure the quinoa doesn’t burn.

While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of oil in another saucepan over medium heat. Pour minced onion into the saucepan and saute for a few minutes till it softens and begins to turn brown. Add the minced garlic to the pot and let it saute for 1-2 minutes longer till aromatic. Add the black beans to the pot of onions along with 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Let the beans simmer for 15 minutes till the liquid is mostly evaporated. Stir in 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

When the quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Use the fork to mix in 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Assemble your burrito bowls. Divide the cilantro lime quinoa between four bowls. Top each portion of quinoa with 1/4 cup of shredded lettuce. Top each portion of lettuce with simmered black beans. Top the black beans with your choice of optional toppings. Serve warm.

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