This one skillet Mexican quinoa recipe is hearty, flavorful, and so good for you, too! An easy way to repurpose leftovers into a gluten free vegetarian meal the whole family will love. Serve it for a filling dinner, a tasty appetizer, and more! Vegan Option.
Why We Love This Mexican Quinoa Recipe
Wanna know what’s better than an easy meal prep recipe? One that’s budget friendly and made using nothing but leftovers you already have on hand, and that’s exactly what this Mexican quinoa bowl is! In fact, this recipe was born out of a need to use up leftover quinoa, and it couldn’t have turned out more delicious! Not only is it super quick to make, but it also:
- Comes together in one skillet
- Is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients
- Contains lots of plant-based protein
- Can be customized to suit all your dietary needs and taste bud preferences
Whip it up in no time for a healthy vegetarian dinner, an easy game day appetizer, or a packed lunch the whole family will be excited to eat!
What Is Quinoa?
Pronounced “keen-waa”, quinoa is an ancient ingredient that is considered to be a pseudo-grain. This means that it’s cooked and consumed as a grain would be but is actually a seed! Naturally gluten free, it’s a nutrient-packed ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of ways. Keep reading here to learn more about what quinoa is, why it’s good for you, how to cook and use it, and more!
Why This Mexican Quinoa Recipe Is Healthy
Yes! Quinoa itself is a good source of complex carbohydrates. Plus, it’s full of health benefits and is high in fiber, protein, and non-heme iron. In fact, it’s the only grain that is considered to be a complete protein all on its own, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. In addition, it’s also gluten free, has a low glycemic index, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium, and vitamin E!
Then, we boosted its benefits even further by pairing it with vitamin C-rich veggies to help you more easily absorb all that iron. Meanwhile, the onion and garlic work to improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels while also fighting infections. All this to say, this is one comforting dinner you can feel good about eating!
Vegetarian Ingredients You’ll Need
Feel free to mix and match your favorite veggies and seasonings to make this Mexican quinoa bowl your own. To get you started, here are the staple ingredients we used:
- Veggies – White onion, corn, and bell pepper add tons of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber along with a pop of color and extra flavor.
- Quinoa – Any color quinoa will work for this dish. Just make sure it’s cooked!
- Broth – Vegetable broth enhances the richness of the quinoa and melds the flavors together.
- Flavor Enhancers – Garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder add plenty of warmth and just a hint of spice.
- Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies – This helps create a broth-like consistency perfect for dipping along with an extra kick of spice.
- Cheese of Choice – We liked to use Mexican cheese or dairy free cheese for added creaminess on top.
- Garnishes – Chopped cilantro and lime juice top off the dish with the perfect refreshing taste.
Before You Begin – How to Cook Basic Quinoa
Below is a brief overview of how we prepare quinoa for this recipe. However, for more details and a thorough explanation, keep reading here.
- Strain the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear.
- Boil 2 ½ cups of water or vegetable stock over high heat, and add in 1 ¼ cups of uncooked quinoa.
- Bring the liquid back to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes. Then, fluff it with a fork, and continue making your bowl!
How to Make the Perfect Mexican Quinoa
Learn how to make a quinoa dinner recipe easy as 1, 2, 3!
- Heat a large skillet that’s oven-safe on the stove.
- Sauté the onion in oil until it is soft and translucent. Then, stir in the garlic for another minute or until it’s fragrant.
- Add in the corn kernels and bell pepper, and continue to sauté until they’re soft.
- Mix the quinoa, broth, seasonings, and canned tomatoes into the skillet, and stir to combine.
- Then, reduce the heat, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture has thickened.
- Preheat the broiler, and in the meantime, mix in 1 cup of the cheese. Continue to cook the Mexican quinoa until the cheese is melted and well combined.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the ingredients in the skillet, and place it in the broiler until it is golden and bubbly.
- Let the skillet cool, and top with garnishes.
Can I Make This Quinoa Dinner Recipe Vegan?
As mentioned, you can adjust and customize this Mexican quinoa recipe to fit all your needs. For instance, you could:
- Add Meat. If you’re not following a vegan or vegetarian diet, feel free to stir in extra protein like ground beef, ground turkey, or shredded chicken. You could even add a couple of fried eggs on top!
- Swap Out the Veggies. Feel free to incorporate whatever veggies you have on hand. For instance, we love to include mushrooms and zucchini, too. Just keep in mind that different veggies may require different cooking times.
- Use a Different Grain. Not a fan of quinoa? No worries! Swap it out with another gluten free grain like millet, buckwheat, or rice instead.
- Stir in Beans (If Tolerated). Add a portion of black beans, cannellini beans, or chickpeas for a boost of nutrients and fiber, and even more protein without the need for meat!
- Include Your Favorite Toppings. Once removed from the oven, top your one pan Mexican quinoa with fresh ingredients like jalapenos and avocado.
This Mexican quinoa recipe is super filling on its own, but you can also spruce it up! Try serving it:
Just when you thought this easy Mexican quinoa recipe couldn’t get any better, we’re here to tell you it makes for an amazing meal prep option, too!
Fridge: Once cooled, place leftovers in an airtight container, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Keep the completed dish in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Pro-Tip: For easy meals in a pinch, prepare quinoa ahead of time, and store it in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezer for 8-12 months!
To Eat: Thaw frozen leftovers in the fridge overnight. Then, enjoy your Mexican quinoa dinner cold. Or, warm it in the microwave or in a skillet over medium-low heat. If your quinoa begins to dry out, add an extra splash of broth to freshen it back up!
More Quinoa Loaded Recipes
Looking for more gluten free quinoa recipes? Check out these allergy friendly options to meet all your needs!
- A nutrient-rich powerhouse, these Vegan Greek Quinoa Burgers are the “meatiest” plant-based burgers you’ll ever taste.
- Switch up your morning routine with these hearty Savory Quinoa Breakfast Bowls.
- This Fiesta Quinoa Salad Bowl is vibrant, tasty, and loaded with veggies for an easy make-ahead Mexican-inspired meal you’ll love.
- Whip up this BBQ Tempeh Vegan Quinoa for a protein-packed meal loaded with Southwest flavors.
Do you have questions, feedback, or tips about this recipe? Leave a comment below with any questions or feedback you’d like to share!