Kicked-Up Quinoa and Black Beans

I don’t know if anything can ever touch the Sesame Rice Bowl for my all-time favorite meal, but this kicked-up quinoa gives it a run for its money. I’ve made it 4 times this week already.

My favorite ingredient in this dish are the gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes you see scattered around the photos. I just happened to pick these up at my Whole Foods and I’m so happy I found them – the flavors are so, so much more interesting than boring red cherry tomatoes. And I love buying heirloom vegetables at any chance I get. By definition, heirlooms are the naturally-pollinated cultivars that existed long before we started engineering all the nutrients out of our food. Spoiler alert: you’ll be seeing these tomatoes again very soon…

A few techniques used here are shamelessly inspired by a video on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube. Namely, frying black beans and creating a vinegar infused with chilies. I had never tried either of these methods before, and they kick this quinoa up to a whole new level. The beans are crispy, the lemon chile dressing is spicy and acidic, and the fresh veggies layer on the perfect flavors.

Quinoa and Beans

Makes 2 Servings


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 15 oz cans black beans
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 avocado
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 1-2 red/green chilies
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Quinoa and Beans chilies

Step Zero

One of the best parts of this recipe is the beautiful lemon chile dressing. When you slice some chilies and let them marinate in the lemon juice, the juice develops a crazy-awesome and spicy flavor that makes this recipe work. Slice a red and green chili very thinly and add them to a small bowl with the juice of one lemon. Let this sit for 30-60 minutes to marinate.

Step One

Cook the quinoa – start by rinsing 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa and adding it to a pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. This should simmer for about 20-25 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the grains are translucent and fluffy.

Step Two

Fried Black Beans

While the quinoa is cooking, make the magical black beans. Before this recipe, I had never tried frying beans but I was surprised at how great this technique works. Rather than typical mushy beans, these become more dry and crispy and they work extremely well in this recipe. To make them, add the black beans and (optionally) a tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet. Let these cook over medium heat until they become slightly dried out and crispy. Right towards the end, add a pinch of salt, which boosts the flavor and helps them dry out even a little more.

Step Three

For each serving, add a small mountain of quinoa to the center of a plate and pile all the ingredients around it – a spoonful of beans, a few sliced green onions, some halved cherry tomatoes, some chopped parsley, 1/4 a sliced avocado, and a pinch of salt & pepper. Top with a drizzle of the amazing lemon chile dressing and 3-4 sliced chilies. Yum!

Quinoa Beans


Leave a Reply
  1. Just made this tonight, super good! Love how its so protein packed and fresh tasting. I got to use basil from my lil’ Trader Joes plant and it was fantastic with the citrus and chile flavors!

    • Awesome! I’m so glad you liked it. Haha, see those Trader Joe’s herb plants every time I go and I’ve always wanted one! I’ll have to buy one sometime soon. 🙂

  2. I have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite “go-to” dishes! I love all the flavors combined and never tire of making/eating this! It is easy to vary the dish if you choose although the original is pretty perfect in my opinion!

  3. quick question – where do you find chiles? many of the vegan recipes i’m seeing call for it, but i haven’t had much luck finding them anywhere. love the site, this dish is awesome without the sauce and using tamari!

    • Hey Matt, chiles/peppers can be found at every supermarket around the world 🙂 in the produce section: jalapeños, anaheim, habanero, etc.

  4. Seriously. I am so glad I discovered your site!! The flavors in these dishes are perfect. I love the lemon chile dressing – so much that I think I’ll grow chiles/peppers this spring so I can keep them on hand. Healthy, savory and lots of fiber.

    • Oh, thanks so much Nely! I’m really glad you’re enjoying my site. This is my first year with a garden and I’ll definitely be growing peppers in a few months! 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Pasta Puttanesca with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes