"Quinoa with Corn and Beans"
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup organic white quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Chop half of a sweet onion.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion bits and stir until lightly browned.
Thoroughly rinse 3/4 cup organic white quinoa in a fine sieve. Pour the quinoa over the browned onion bits and stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth to the pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.
Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Quinoa should be tender and most or all of the broth absorbed.
Stir in 1 cup of thawed corn kernels, and cover the pot. Rinse and drain 2 cans of black beans, then add them to the pot. Snip the fresh cilantro over the pot, stirring periodically, until the quinoa mixture is generously flecked with green.
Cover the pot and keep on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the new ingredients are heated through. Then serve.
I used half a sweet onion. The recipe just needs some allium. I want to try it with green onions in the future. Chives or leeks would probably work too. Garlic is another option. The biggest nuisance was how long it took to brown the onions, so reducing that time would make the recipe much more convenient.
Quinoa is a tiny, nutty-flavored grainlike seed from South America. It comes in a white, red, and other colors; all high in protein and iron. They are more or less equivalent in many recipes. A natural coating of saponins deters pests, and must be rinsed away before use. If you can't find quinoa, you can substitute couscous or another small grain product, but the recipe will taste different.
Different cooking oils will subtly influence the flavor. If you don't like or don't have olive oil, consider vegetable oil, peanut oil, or ghee.
Cooking liquid is also flexible. Chicken or beef broth should also work. I would like to try quinoa with meat, so for that I'll probably want chicken broth. Bullion is another option; I want to explore Maggi cubes too, which is my go-to flavoring for noodles.
Regarding spices, you can set the heat anywhere you want it. This version isn't hot but is quite flavorful. Sweet paprika would be even milder. To turn up the heat, use hot paprika, cayenne, or your favorite type of chile powder. Panca chile is from Peru, and the more common Ancho from Central America. One South American spice that I really want to try is annatto seeds, which can be crushed and added, or simmered whole to make a flavored oil.
Ground black pepper is the basic version. If you want to get fancy, used smoked black pepper, red peppercorns, green peppercorns, or a combination.
Sea salt is my standard cooking salt. In gourmet options, smoked salt should also work. Don't use red or pink salt in this recipe -- the quinoa is already so high in iron that more would be overkill.
Frozen corn holds together well. Canned might work. Hominy would probably work. However, many other vegetables are possible. Consider peas or a mixed vegetable blend.
This version calls for black beans. Many other types should work, such as red beans or navy beans. I'm tempted to try it with black-eyed peas.
Cilantro adds a great deal to this recipe. I may try dried instead of fresh. If it tastes soapy to you, substitute flat parsley or another leafy green.
This recipe reheats exceptionally well. The flavors are more married the next day, particularly the cilantro and cumin. You could make it in advance and reheat it for an event. We haven't tried freezing it yet, but would like to. It takes a moderate amount of effort to make, but it produces a considerable amount of food with tasty leftovers, so it's worth the work.