about bliss

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

new recipe challenge: quinoa burrito bowls

I'm embarrassed—I've been scared of quinoa. 

I'm a vegetarian. I believe in eating a wide range of grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables. 

Quinoa, along with kale, spinach, blueberries, and broccoli, embodies holy-healthy-healing in the food world I (mostly) live in. 

But. I cooked it several years ago and...didn't really like it. Was it the lack of flavor? The texture? The strange curlicues coming off of the individual seeds? 

I don't know. 

I wanted to try again, after reading many recipes featuring the seed, after being reminded that it's a complete protein, after ogling my friend's quinoa-based salads at work meetings. Perhaps I could sub quinoa for rice in one of our standard meals...

I planned last night's meal, burrito bowls, around the vat of black beans in the fridge (a trip to Fleet Farm is in order to stock up on freezer containers!) These beans are phenomenal—flavorful, easy to cook, and economical. If you're in West Michigan, check out Shady Side Farm

I was also inspired after reading the NPR story about President Obama's recent DC peregrination in search of everyday food: "I just walked over to Chipotle's for lunch. I caused a lot of havoc as you might expect," the president said. "It had been awhile since I had the burrito bowl, and it was good." I can sympathize. Gregg and I love Chipotle burrito bowls, though our nearest Chipotle is a good 45 minute drive away. 

Homemade burrito bowls are versatile, customizable, simple, and delicious. I usually use brown rice as the base, but substituted quinoa. To increase the flavor of the quinoa, I followed the preparation from The Kitchn, with a few modifications. I sauteed vidalia onion and garlic in the olive oil before adding the quinoa; I tossed in a chunk of carrot and celery, along with a bay leaf, to simulate the vegetable broth I didn't have. Before serving, I pulled them out of the pan. The garlic and onion melded with the fluffy quinoa, and the aromatics added subtle flavor. A drizzle of olive oil and skiff of salt at the end completed the base of our burrito bowls. 

To elevate the black beans, I sauteed vidalia onion, garlic, and a small piece of a chipotle pepper (packed in adobo) in olive oil before adding the beans. I tossed a handful of scallions in at the end. 

I also sauteed red bell peppers and vidalia onions with a sprinkling of chili powder and salt. 

Add avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos, scallions, shredded 9 year aged Wisconsin cheddar, and sour cream, and the burrito bowl buffet was ready. 

With this blog in mind, I artfully arranged my bowl in sections, much to the amusement of my husband. I skipped the jalapeno pepper rounds and went light on tomatoes (and then passed them off on Gregg). 

In the interest of honest blogging, I share this second photo of my burrito bowl post-photo shoot and pre-eating. A glorious mess. 

The fresh flavors of the raw ingredients married with the earthy, hearty tones of the quinoa and beans, creating a satisfying dish. The quinoa was delicious, a pleasant change from rice, and a superfood to boot. Welcome back to my pantry, oh wonder seed. 

As a bonus, I share this commercial, popular last football season. It's been so effective that I can barely pronounce quinoa correctly. 

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