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Loaded Mexican Veggie Quinoa with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Rule #140: Even enemies can become the best of friends.

Quinoa and I haven’t always been friends. I’d say we were more of frenemies for a long time. BUT – that’s all changed now. This Loaded Mexican Veggie Quinoa with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette is the reason for my change of heart. Toasting your quinoa before adding the liquid is the key to fluffy, delicious morsels of flavor. Pair that with the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, and you’re in Quinoa Heaven!

Loaded-Mexican-Veggie-Quinoa-with-Cilantro-Lime-Vinaigrette

We like to top our quinoa with a little Cotija cheese and diced avocado to add more flavor, texture, and protein. You can never go wrong when you add avocado to something. It’s like bacon. It’s just universally perfect.

Loaded-Mexican-Veggie-Quinoa-with-Cilantro-Lime-Vinaigrette-recipe

Loaded Mexican Veggie Quinoa

First things first, let’s make us some quinoa. Start by sautéing an onion in a little olive oil over medium-high heat, just until softened (about 8 minutes). Then, add in some garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

sauté-onion

Next, add your quinoa. Some folks rinse and drain their quinoa before cooking, but I typically just throw it all in there. Our favorite quinoa brand is Village Harvest Organic Quinoa. Toast the quinoa for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

toast-quinoa

Now, pour in some chicken stock and sprinkle in some Kosher salt. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low.

add-chicken-stock

Cook the quinoa until it’s absorbed all of the liquid (about 20 minutes).

cooked-quinoa-recipe

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

While your quinoa is gettin’ it’s cookin’ on, go ahead and whip up the vinaigrette. Combine some olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, agave, cumin, salt, and pepper. Whisk everything together until it’s well combined.

cilantro-lime-vinaigrette

Gently pour in the vinaigrette to the cooked quinoa, and give ‘er a stir.

add-vinaigrette

Next, add in a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) and a diced red bell pepper. Now, let’s be real. At this point, you can do whatever your little pitter-patter heart desires. Don’t like red bell pepper? Don’t throw it in. Want to add some diced carrots or maybe even spinach? Be my guest. This quinoa bowl is yours to own, mis amigos.

add-black-beans-and-red-bell-pepper

Give everything a good ole stir.

stir-to-combine

Like I said, our toppings of choice are Cotija cheese and avocado, but you can always sub Feta cheese or even goat cheese. Diced cucumbers would also make a great addition to really up your Veggie Game.

Loaded-Mexican-Veggie-Quinoa-with-Cilantro-Lime-Vinaigrette-recipe

This recipe makes 5 good-sized servings coming in under 300 calories each, 38g net carbs, and 11g of protein (not including cheese and/or avocado).

Loaded-Mexican-Veggie-Quinoa-with-Cilantro-Lime-Vinaigrette-easy-recipe

My favorite part of this dish is that it lasts for a long time in the fridge! So, make it on Sunday and enjoy it all week long. I just diced my avocado right before serving (no one likes a brown avocado… that just ain’t right).

Loaded-Mexican-Veggie-Quinoa-with-Cilantro-Lime-Vinaigrette-Pinterest

Loaded Mexican Veggie Quinoa with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Quinoa Bowl
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 (15.5-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, seeded, membranes removed, chopped
Diced avocado
Crumbled Feta or cotija cheese

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbs.)
1 tbs. agave
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat olive oil to a shimmer over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and sauté until softened (about 8 minutes). Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add in the quinoa, and cook, stirring occasionally until quinoa is toasted (about 5 minutes). Pour in the chicken stock, sprinkle on the salt, cover, and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until quinoa soaks up the liquid (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients of the vinaigrette in a medium bowl. Whisk well until combined and set aside.

Once quinoa is cooked, stir the vinaigrette into the mixture. Add in the beans and bell pepper, and stir to combine. Serve with diced avocado and crumbled Feta or cotija cheese on top.

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