Quinoa Goes South of the Border

Cooking for one is a challenge.

On the plus side, you don’t have to cook as often. So the preparation and cooking time for one dish (which will give you six to eight meals) is reduced overall. On the negative side, especially with new dishes, what happens if you don’t LIKE the result? You end up having to eat it for six to eight meals. And some things don’t freeze well. If you’re smart, you halve the recipe to make that particular dish. But then, you often end up with half cans of sauces, beans, veggies etc that are needed for the dish.

Another negative is that you sometimes end up having to buy pre-packaged perishable foods for the dish you’re making that you don’t always use up before they go bad.

This past weekend I brought home a lot of pantry items. Some of them were intended for dishes in which the remaining quinoa in my pantry would be used. And then, I ran across a 900 gm package of white quinoa which was reduced to about 45% of its regular price. So I bought the bag planning to save the pricier tri-colour quinoa for dishes where appearance mattered. Luckily, such items have a long shelf life. But I ALSO bought a hard taco kit cause I have had a Tex-Mex craving for a while. And my Cinco de Mayo meal was just … sad. And it was on sale. πŸ™‚

I DID have to buy some ground beef to put in the tacos, though, because I didn’t have any in my freezer. And old cheddar cheese because I was low on that too. Luckily the cheese was a dollar off.

(The JOYS of grocery shopping.)

Anyway, at this point, I had decided on a Tex-Mex menu for the weekend.

To spare you further headaches of the mental gymnastics I went through, my Sunday cooking ended up being beef tacos, a quinoa enchilada casserole and some mac and cheese (leftover pasta shells) as a side to one of my future weekday meals.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole – serves 4

2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup rinsed and drained quinoa, 1 cup chicken stock and 1/2 tsp salt, though you can use vegetable stock)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed corn
1/2 cup black beans (if canned, drained and rinsed well)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced finely
1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend

Enchilada sauce

1 clove garlic, smashed and sauteed over medium heat in 1 tsp vegetable oil til golden, discard garlic retaining the seasoned oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo
1-2 tbsp water, as needed


1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend


1-2 diced Haas avocados
1/4 cup green onions thinly sliced on diagonal

Preheat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Lightly oil a medium sized casserole or other baking dish.

In a large sauce pan, combine the seasoned oil, tomato sauce, cumin, salt and pepper, chipotle and 1 tbsp water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add additional water if sauce is too thick.

Combine the quinoa, corn, black beans, jalapeno pepper and cheese in a medium sized bowl. Turn out into prepared baking dish and press down lightly.

Spoon the enchilada sauce over the top. Sprinkle the 2nd amount of cheese over the top.

Cover tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil, or the lid if using a casserole dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let stand for 5-10 minutes and serve, garnishing each individual portion with diced avocado and green onion.

Expect to see more quinoa recipes … soon.


11 thoughts on “Quinoa Goes South of the Border

  1. I agree I don’t like wasting food, but, life’s too short. If I’ve had a disaster and after one or two leftover meals if I can’t stand it anymore, I call ‘freezer burn’ and out it goes…

    1. I’ve pitched a few of my disasters when tinkering just didn’t make the meal any more palatable. I didn’t even regret that small loaf of Nutella babka bread pudding that went from the freezer to the garbage after a couple of slices I had thawed were soggy and tasteless.

      1. Yep, there’s no point torturing yourself. It’s all part of the balance of creating things. The good and the not so good πŸ˜ƒ

  2. That’s always disappointing when a dish doesn’t turn out, I usually just pitch it too. The quinoa casserole looks interesting, I love the way you served it with avocado.

    1. The bread pudding was great before I froze it. However the thawed version … yucky. I was annoyed to have to throw it away but couldn’t picture eating the whole thawed loaf.

      The enchilada recipe I copied garnished with avocado and the green onion. It was a great pairing.

  3. Even though I don’t like quinoa (I wonder if it’s not its health “ads” made by all the media and nutritionists that have put me off it…), I must say your enchilada casserole looks fantastic (like everything in this post!).

    1. Thank you. I thought quinoa might be one of those nutrition fads that often spring up, and it may very well be. I have to say thought that I liked both the bread and the casserole I made with it. I have another casserole that I’m going to make from a recipe idea given to me by someone whose blog I follow. There are also several “Buddha Bowl” ideas I want to try … sort of like a cold rice bowl with various toppings both vegetarian or non-veg. The quinoa is actually tasty.

  4. I’ve never had an enchilada casserole with or without quinoa but it looks very comforting. Your freezer must be getting low if there isn’t any beef mince left. πŸ™‚

    1. All the flavour of an enchilada but without the flour tortillas. I used up the last of the ground beef a while back and hadn’t picked up my usual 4 or 5 lb purchase from the market.

      PS: I may not have any ground beef but there’s chicken breast and drumsticks, pork chops and a pork butt for pulled pork.

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