In my opinion, quinoa is the perfect food: complete protein, complex carbs, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s no wonder that the Inca warriors ate quinoa before going into battle, and NASA is considering it as a primary crop for long-term space travel.
As many quinoa recipes as I’ve posted over the years, this Quick Quinoa Queso Skillet is my new favorite – the flavors are INSANE. You’ve got the smokiness from the adobo sauce, the heat from the chipotle peppers, the creaminess from the vegan cashew queso, the classic Mexican flavors of cilantro, corn, beans, and lime – all infused into the quinoa as it cooks. In the end, we have one seriously tasty meal that’s designed to be made in just one skillet and take less than 25 minutes from start to finish.
Makes 4 servings
- 1 1/4 cups white quinoa
- 2+ cups vegetable broth
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1 (7 oz) can of chipotles in adobo
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
- 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans
- Salt, to taste
- 2 small corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 4 green onions
- 2 limes
- 1 avocado (optional)
- 1/2 cup cashew cheese (recipe below)
For the nacho cheese / queso, soak 1/3 cup of raw cashews for 30-90 minutes ahead of time to soften them before blending.
Grab a large skillet and throw in a minced jalapeño and 3 minced cloves of garlic. Give these about 3 minutes to soften by themselves. Then, add 1 1/4 cups of dry white quinoa and allow it to toast dry for 30-60 seconds before adding about 2 cups of vegetable broth. Stir, cover, and allow to simmer over medium heat.
Open the can of chipotles in adobo sauce (very easy to find in most grocery stores), pull out 4-8 peppers and chop them into small pieces. Depending on your heat tolerance, you can add anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of these peppers; I added 1/2 cup and it was spicy but not unbearable. Add these into the skillet along with 1-2 tablespoons of the beautiful smoky adobo sauce in the can.
Also at this stage, add 1 cup of corn kernels, a can of pinto beans (drained of their liquid), and a pinch or two of salt, if desired. Stir, cover again, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Check every 5 minutes to stir and add more vegetable broth or water if the quinoa absorbs all the liquid.
Step Three: The Queso
Meanwhile, make some queso (cashew-based nacho cheese)! To make, you will need: 1/3 cup soaked cashews, 1/3+ cup water, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, salt, and a pinch of turmeric (for color). To make:
Drain the cashews from their soaking water and add them to a blender with all the other ingredients – water, nutritional yeast, salt, smoked paprika, and turmeric. Blend until smooth. Give the sauce a taste and adjust anything as needed – a little more water may be needed as well. Once it’s perfect, set aside.
When the quinoa is fully cooked and fluffy, remove from the heat and add in a handful of chopped cilantro, a few chopped green onions, some corn tortillas that have been cut into thin strips (as pictured), and a squeeze of lime juice. To serve, top the entire skillet (or each serving bowl) with a generous drizzle of the queso and slices of avocado.