Spicy Quinoa with Black Beans, Corn and Cilantro

This is one of the first recipes I made when I decided to dip my toes into veganism. I got the inspiration from a very highly rated recipe on Allrecipes.com and spiced it up a little. I found that the corn needed a little more cooking, and that it was best served as a burrito filling with some avocados and lime. Filling, tasty, spicy and very flavorful–you’ll never miss the meat.

If you prefer food that’s less spicy, decrease the cayenne and/or chipotle. If you prefer food that’s less salty, decrease the bouillon paste or broth and use part or all plain water. If you’re not super into cilantro, or if you’re using the kind that comes in small frozen cubes, feel free to decrease to whatever you’ve got. I find it easiest to just use up the whole bunch. If you need to bring a cold salad to a summer barbeque, mix up a batch the night before and chill. Maybe serve with corn chips or, even better, sweet potato corn chips. If you want to put more stuff in your burrito, maybe use some vegan cheese or sour cream, salsa, cashew pieces, crispy crumbled tempeh, or vegan taco filling (TVP).

Or, dedicate part of an afternoon to making burritos then have them for lunch at work. Wrap in foil, label with a Sharpie, and freeze in a freezer bag. To reheat, remove foil, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave from frozen for 3 minutes on high.

As you can see, I like to use the multi-color quinoa. I get it in bulk and it’s almost $6/lb, but I like the texture and color so much better than the plain regular quinoa. However, the plain regular quinoa is only like $3/lb. So if you’re just experimenting with quinoa, get the cheaper kind. They have it at Trader Joe’s, too. If you already are sold on this wonderful gluten-free, protein and amino acid-packed grain, experiment with some other colors and textures. If you want. Oh and speaking of gluten-free, serve with corn tortillas or corn chips instead of wheat tortillas for a GF meal!

Spicy Quinoa with Black Beans, Corn and Cilantro

Time commitment: 40 minutes
Makes: 6-8 servings/burritos


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water, veggie broth, or reconstituted bouillon (I used Organic Vegetable Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (or one can of corn, drained)
  • 1 28-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or two 15 oz. cans)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed, leaves chopped (or less to taste)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 6-8 tortillas (optional)


  1. Heat oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stir till very fragrant and beginning to become translucent. Add quinoa and spices, cook for about a minute stirring. Add broth or water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, prepare beans, measure corn, and wash and chop cilantro. 
  3. When the timer goes off, add the corn and increase heat to medium-high, stirring so mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once boiling, reduce to simmer again, cover with lid, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until corn and quinoa are cooked. 
  4. Add beans, cilantro and lime juice, stir to combine. Add salt to taste (I didn’t need any with the bouillon, so taste before you add any salt). Serve in tortillas (heated in a stack in 350-degree oven for a few minutes on a cookie sheet, covered with foil), with chips or on it’s own. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers. 
This entry was posted in dinner, gluten-free, gluten-free option, lunch, recipe, salads and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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