If you read this blog, you might know that I'm a die hard Test Kitchen fan. One of the reasons I love these recipes so much is that over time I've learned the science behind cooking, and the methods build intuition and confidence in the kitchen. For example, I am free to experiment and try new things using learned technique.
One thing I threw together last summer has really stuck, primarily because it's delicious, it's simple, it's cheap, and it's made of ingredients I have on-hand, mostly from the garden. It also uses quinoa, which I've found to be the "vanilla" of "grains" (it's not actually a grain) and you can use it in place of just about anything- grain, pasta, etc. And it can go sweet, spicy, you name it.
As I was making it last night, I thought I'd blog it as well. I don't know what to call it- so let's call it what it is:
Quinoa with Black Beans and Sweet Corn
Start by cooking two strips of sliced bacon in a dutch oven over medium high heat.
When the fat begins to render (though I like to wait until just beyond this point), add 2 diced onions and several diced peppers (about 1-2 cups, to taste). Add a dash of salt.
Cook until the onions and peppers soften and are just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally- remember to be picking up the brown bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of chili powder (to taste), and 3 minced garlic cloves. Combine and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, approximately 30 seconds.
Add 1 C rinsed quinoa and 1 1/2 - 2 C water. Scrape up any browned bits.
Then add a large can of rinsed black beans and 1 qt of cooked sweet corn with 1 t salt. Combine and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, always scraping up those bits on the bottom.
Over those 15 minutes the quinoa will begin soaking up all that flavorful liquid, and eventually will "pop", or, turn into "Saturns" as my friend Tiana says. That's how you know it's done. Continue to simmer until most of the liquid is gone.
Allow to sit 5 minutes off-heat. Fluff, salt and pepper to taste, and perhaps incorporate a handful of chopped cilantro if you have some, or serve with lime wedges.
We ate ours with a side of salad greens and some sliced tomatoes.