Mexican Fried Quinoa

I’m all for dishes that make use of whatever you happen to have on hand. Oh sure, it’s nice to find new recipes, go shopping for all the ingredients, and make a spectacular meal. But I am not a weekly meal planner, so I tend to grocery shop when I’m at work, picking up staples I’m out of, things on sale, and a few random items I maybe have a craving for. Which generally leaves me with a whole lot of ingredients and no direction.


Something I have come to love over the years is making homemade fried rice. You don’t need a true recipe – get some rice, some veggies, and some protein, throw in some soy sauce, oil and spices, and dinner is served. One night I had the bright idea to switch out Asian flavours for Mexican, using salsa to spice it up, and serving it with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Brilliant!


The only thing with fried rice – the damn rice takes awhile to make. Brown rice in my steamer takes 50 – 60 minutes, and some nights I just don’t want to wait that long to cook. Plus fried rice is really better with day old rice, and we’ve already established that my planning skills do not allow for this foresight. Which is why one night I thought, “hey, why not use quinoa instead?


In the 15 minutes it takes for the quinoa to cook up, you have enough time to assemble, wash, and chop/grate the rest of your ingredients. How’s that for effective time management?


I will say this recipe is fairly flexible. Use whatever veggies you have on hand. This night I had a pepper, frozen corn, frozen spinach, and celery, along with an onion. Some times I use carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, or whatever else is lurking in my fridge. Other nights it’s simply an onion and frozen corn/peas because I haven’t shopped in weeks.


I like to use a can of black beans for my protein, but anything goes – I’ve done it with chicken, tofu, and shrimp before. All lovely. If you use a raw meat, cook it first before you do any of the other ingredients, then add it back in at the end.


Toppings are the classic taco/nacho/fajita fare – shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, salsa, avocado. Feta even works if that’s all you have.


So not only is this meal easy to throw together with whatever you have on hand, but it is jam packed with goodness – hello fibre! And a whole whack of vitamins and minerals. Oh yeah, and it tastes pretty darn good as well.


Mexican Fried Quinoa

serves 6 – 8

Fill your belly on the cheap with this easy, fibre filled meal. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and dress it up with your favourite Mexican inspired seasonings and toppings. It makes a lot, and is great to pack for lunch the next day…or two…or three!


  • 1 cup qunioa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 – 4 cups vegetables, chopped (you could use peppers, carrots, celery, cabbage, spinach, corn, peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional – more if you like it spicy)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, more salsa for toppings


1. Place quinoa and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 – 15 min, until all the water is absorbed. Turn off heat.

2. Heat a wok at medium, and add oil, onion, and garlic, and stirfry until onions is a little translucent.

3. Add the rest of your vegetables, and stirfry to desired doneness.

4. Add quinoa, black beans, salsa, cumin, and cayenne, and stirfry until everything is combined and heated all the way through.

5. Serve with desired toppings.


Notes: This recipe is very versatile – feel free to switch out other proteins for the black beans, and whatever vegetables you have on hand. Try out different kinds of salsa to switch up the flavour.


How do you like your salsa – mild or hot?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Dinner, Gluten Free, Lunch, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian, Whole Grain


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4 Comments on “Mexican Fried Quinoa”

  1. December 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Mmmmm!!! And easy!

  2. December 14, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    I am a fan! 🙂

  3. December 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Such a great idea for quinoa! It’s such a great base to work with and I love getting more creative ideas. I haven’t done a Mexican version so I definitely need to try this.

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