Posts Tagged 'Mexican cuisine'

iCinco de Mayo! Cilantro-Lime Quinoa with Beans

With May upon us, it’s time for a ‘7th inning stretch’ to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!  Every year, especially across the U.S. and parts of Mexico, that means it’s time for a fiesta!  What exactly is all the fuss about?  Though some confuse this holiday with Mexico’s independence (which is on Sept 16), it actually commemorates the victory of a vastly outnumbered Mexican Army force over the French Army, considered the finest army of the time, in the town of Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862.  Unfortunately, Mexico’s victory, while both significant and symbolic, was short-lived, as the French would subsequently defeat the Mexican Army and, in 1864, install an Austrian archduke as Mexico’s Emperor, Maximilian I.  (Incidentally, Maximilian’s imperial reign would last only 3 years before he was overthrown by Mexican republican forces.)  Some have argued that Mexico’s victory at Puebla, while a major morale boost for the Mexican Army at the time, may have had significant consequences for the U.S., which was in the midst of a bloody Civil War in 1862.  It has been argued that, had the Mexicans lost the Battle of Puebla, the French might have more actively supplied the Confederacy, thereby further prolonging the American Civil War.  So, Americans and Mexicans together have good reason to celebrate Mexico’s victory.  Today, in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in the Puebla region where the original Battle was won.  In the U.S., it has become a major celebration of Mexican-American heritage (propelled in part by an extensive beer marketing campaign, of course).  All in all, it is yet another great reason to enjoy some fine Mexican cuisine.

In honor of Mexico’s victory, here’s a relatively easy and healthy Mexican-inspired recipe with a unique twist.

Cilantro-Lime infused Quinoa with Black Beans

yield: Makes 4 servings

total cooking and prep time: Less than 1 hr

Quinoa is a so-called “super-grain” from the Andes region of South America.  It’s relatively easy to prepare and said to be packed with proteins.  It can usually be found in the rice aisle in most American supermarkets.  I like to think of quinoa as an alternative to rice or bulgur.   This recipe makes a great stand-alone entrée or side dish.  It also goes great with nachos as a party starter!  It’s vegetarian-friendly and can be vegan-friendly by using vegan butter substitutes.

Verde: Lime, chopped scallions and cilantro.

What you need:

Grated lime zest  of 1 lime

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or fresh-squeeze 1 or 2 limes)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (or vegan butter substitute)

1 tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)

1 cup quinoa rinsed

2 garlic gloves

1 (14- to 15-ounce) can of  black beans, rinsed and drained

2 medium tomatoes, diced

4 scallions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Optional:

2 to 3 avocados

Large (10″) soft tortillas or hard shell tacos

cumin

sour cream

Preparation:

Basic Quinoa Recipe (this basic recipe can be used as a base for many quinoa recipes):

Mince the garlic.  Simmer 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot and add garlic. After about 1 minute, stir in quinoa and add water (about 2 cups of water for 1 cup of quinoa).  Add a dash of salt, and boil uncovered, until quinoa is almost tender, about 12 to 18 mins.  Occasionally fluff the quinoa with a fork to prevent sticking.  Season as desired.  (I like to add a dash of dried oregano.)  When quinoa is tender and fluffy, remove pot from heat.  Let stand, covered for about 5 mins.

Quinoa simmering in water.

Lime dressing:

While the quinoa is cooking, whisk together lime zest and juice, melted butter, 1 tablespoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.  Let cool.

Diced tomatoes, black beans, lime dressing, cilantro and scallions await mixing with the quinoa.

When the quinoa is dry and fluffy, add the lime dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients (cilantro, scallions, and beans) and salt and pepper to taste.

A vibrant collage of colors! Quinoa mixed with lime dressing, cilantro, beans, and scallions. Ready for serving.

Optional: serve with large 10″ soft shell tortillas, toasted taco shells, or with tortilla chips, as an appetizer.  Spice it up with your favorite hot sauce.

For soft shell tortillas, heat a large skillet and add a touch of oil.  I like to dust the soft tortillas with a dash of ground cumin on both sides to give it some extra flavor.  Place on the skillet for about 20 to 30 seconds on each side or until the tortilla starts to lightly brown and crisp.  Remove and place on a serving tray.

Toasted flour tortillas dusted with cumin.

Add a scoop of quinoa, a dollop of sour cream, and some fresh, sliced avocados.  Wrap up the tortilla and serve warm!

And to properly toast Cinco de Mayo, wash it all down with a cold cerveza of course!  While many may prefer the traditional Corona with lime, I recommend Negra Modelo, Dos Equis Amber, or a Bohemia.

Tortilla with quinoa, freshly sliced avocado, and sour cream. And a glass of Negra Modelo to wash it all down. iDelicioso!

iGracias! Thanks for visiting.


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