Quinoa is baaaack! When we were in Abilene, my dad brought a copy paper box FULL of different kinds of peppers to share with us. I brought back poblanos, Anaheims (red and green), jalapeños (green and purple!!), and banana peppers. I’m about to have to freeze several of the jalapeño and Anaheim peppers to keep them from spoiling because I brought home that many. Last week, I got very creative in my meals trying to use them up. You will see a few recipes from those endeavors in the next few weeks. This particular recipe has a shameful inspiration, actually. Many people out there have guilty pleasures in the form of various TV shows; I have guilty pleasures in the form of various questionable food items. There is no need to reveal them all in one fell swoop, but one of them is a certain Mexican TV dinner that came with cheesy Mexican rice. When contemplating a bunch of peppers and thinking of quinoa, it all came back to me in a flash. Cheesy-peppery Mexican quinoa, it is!
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
2 tsp lime juice (not pictured because it was added last minute, on a whim)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 diced Anaheim peppers – I used 1 red and 1 green because I had both.
1/4 ish cup chopped red onion
1 med-lg sprig of thyme
2 tbsp liquid from salsa (no solids) or tomato sauce (optional)
dash or two of salt
1. Chop up the peppers into your preferred bite size. I seeded mine; you go with your personal heat preference.
2. Combine quinoa, lime juice, salsa liquid, salt, and water in a saucepan. Cook on high heat (6 or 7 on the dial) until it is boiling.
3. Add peppers and give it a quick stir. Cover and simmer on low (1 or 2 on the dial) for 15 minutes.
4. When 15 minutes is up, remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
5. Finely chop the thyme. Grate the cheese.
6. Stir in thyme and cheese until cheese is melted.
Isn’t that ridiculous easy? Yes, I thought so as well. My friend was over for dinner, and she went back for seconds on the quinoa. I was pleased to see she enjoyed it. I enjoyed it for lunch leftovers the next day, myself!
For variations, you could substitute any variety of peppers or use Monterey Jack cheese. Oooohhh! I bet a jalapeño jack would be quite delightful and add a bit of kick. I did seed my peppers, but I might leave some seeds or possibly the ribs in next time for a little extra heat. Garlic might also be a positive addition to this dish. If you prefer a crunchier onion or pepper, wait until you are letting the quinoa sit for 5 minutes to put them in. You’ll get a light steam but still have plenty of crunch.
A note about adding herbs: When using fresh herbs, it’s better to add them at the end of the cooking/heating process, so they retain more of their flavor. If you added the thyme in with the quinoa at the beginning, it would boil away the tasty flavor and leave you with a bitter, unfortunate flavor in your dish. Fresh herbs are more delicate than dried, so you can, and probably should, add your dried herbs earlier in the cooking process. This allows the herbs to rehydrate a bit and flavor the entire dish. Your recipe should tell you when. When I wing my recipes, I usually add the dried herbs in prior to any boiling or simmering.
Nutritional Content – divide recipe into 3 servings – approx 1/2 cup each
Fat: 7.4 g
Carbs: 18.8 g
Fiber: 3.4 g
Protein: 7.8 g