Wednesday, March 2, 2011

South of the Border Sweet Potato & Quinoa Bowl

I'm delivering the first of three quinoa incorporating recipes, starting with this, what I'm calling my South of the Border Sweet Potato & Quinoa Bowl.

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, looks like a grain but it's actually a seed.  It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies need, making it a great option for vegans and vegetarians concerned about getting the proper amount of protein.

Quinoa boasts a ton of other health benefits too.  It contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.  Basically, its an excellent choice if you're looking for a healthy, filling, versatile food to add to your diet.  Another bonus - it's gluten free!!!  I'm not always super conscientious of gluten-containing products when I come up with recipes but, this recipe is gluten free and, if I may be so bold, is quite possibly one of my top five, favorite recipes I've ever created slash posted… ever!

So, like I said, quinoa is great because it's filling but I also really enjoy it because of it's unique texture.  It's fluffy yet you can almost feel the little seeds bursting in your mouth as you munch down with each bite.  As of right now, the taste is very difficult for me to describe.  I have eaten it several times over the last month or so and every time I try to pinpoint what exactly it is that quinoa reminds me of, I just can't quite put my finger on it.  I want to say it almost tastes like outside smells when it's sunny and you can faintly detect the smell of golden grass in the air… if that makes any sense at all…

I guess you'll just have to try it out for yourself and see.

The first time I purchased quinoa from the grocery store, I had no idea how to cook it.  I Googled "cooking quinoa" and found this site, Cooking, which has a post entitled, "How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly."  What more could a quinoa novice ask for?!

I followed the well outlined directions they gave for perfectly prepared quinoa and the results were just that, perfect.

This is what it looks like when it cooks up.  The seeds become somewhat translucent and puff up to create a light bed of simultaneously fluffy and crunchy delightfulness.

I'm going to break down the ingredients and preparation of this recipe into it's two main parts:  The Sweet Potato portion and the Quinoa portion.
Quinoa Portion:
- 2 1/2 c. prepared quinoa
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 c. finely chopped, fresh cilantro
- 1 Tbl. dijon mustard
- 5 twists, fresh ground black pepper shaker
- 3/4 c. Pace's chunky salsa (medium heat)
Sweet Potato Portion:
- 1 1/2 Tbl. olive oil
- 2 lg. garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 med./lg. sweet potatoes
- 1/2 tsp. ground blk. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 15.5 oz can blk beans, rinsed & drained
- 3/4 c. diced scallions

Preparation:  Prepare quinoa according to "How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly" directions on Cooking  Portion out 2 and 1/2 cups.  In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, fresh chopped cilantro, dijon mustard, and fresh ground black pepper.  Whisk together until well blended.  Pour mixture over quinoa.  Stir in Pace's Chunky Salsa and mix until all ingredients are well blended.  Set aside.

Pour 1 Tbl. olive oil into saucepan over medium heat.  Crush two cloves with garlic press and add to olive oil.  Mix cinnamon with garlic and oil, coating the bottom of the pan.  Toss in chopped sweet potato pieces (I try to keep mine no larger than about 1/4" thick and 1/2" wide) and coat with cinnamon/oil/garlic mixture.  Add remaining 1/2 Tbl. of olive oil and toss to coat.  Sprinkle sweet potatoes with ground black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.  Stir to mix.  Make as even a layer as possible of seasoned sweet potatoes on bottom of pan and reduce heat to medium, low.  Let cook for about 10 minutes or until all pieces are tender (this time will vary somewhat depending on the thickness of your pieces; you may also want to occasionally stir the potatoes throughout this cooking time so as to prevent any burning).  Once potatoes are tender, toss in rinsed black beans and chopped scallions.  Cook for an additional 4 minutes then remove from heat.

Place about 1 c. of quinoa mixture into a bowl and top with about the same measure of sweet potato mixture.  Garnish with a little fresh cilantro and enjoy.

This dish tastes great whether served hot or cold.   This combo is abso-friggin'-posi-lutely delicious and I sincerely hope you will enjoy it as immensely as I have.

Remember to check back again this Friday for two more quinoa containing, meatless recipes that are surprisingly satisfying and seriously scrumptious.



  1. I made it! It's awesome! So yummy and I think it's going to last me for a while. My kitchen smells sooooo good!

  2. Helpful hint* Dicing those sweet potatoes can be a bit tedious, so make sure you guys bake them in the microwave for 1:30 just to get them a little more tender. Helps speed up the process and saves you about 30 min. :)

  3. Great suggestion! Definitely a time saver and doesn't effect the flavor.