I know what you’re thinking: Waking up on a Wednesday, cooking a pot of grains, and chopping onions and garlic is just not reality. I hear you (and I'm only cooking for me and my husband; we don’t even have kids yet).
But I want to make a case for this dish, in the spirit of prepping for an excellent, inspiring breakfast ahead of time. If you start this recipe on Sunday afternoon, you'll be set for the week ahead and it’ll take you far less than an hour. It’s one of those nice investments in your future self, and it's guaranteed to be a reprieve from standard weekday morning fare.
Quinoa is one of the quicker-cooking grains, so if you get up early on weekdays, this might even be possible to pull off without any advance prep — but as I said, for many of us that might not be realistic.
I prep the quinoa and dressing in advance, and sock them away in the fridge. Then on the morning I’d like to serve this, I simply soft-boil a few eggs, slice an avocado, and dress the breakfast bowl. Undressed, the bowl can remain in the refrigerator for four to five days. Feel free to double the recipe to get even more mileage out of it (or at the very least, double the dressing so you can be primed and ready for a salad later in the week).
I’ve worked to streamline this recipe to make it as simple and speedy as possible. Namely, I tweaked the method so you’re cooking the onions, garlic, and the spices along with the quinoa; the benefit here is that you’re not getting out an extra pan or adding an extra step. One pot. A few cans to open, an onion and a few garlic cloves to chop. The dressing is super mild and not spiced in and of itself, so it easily translates into this morning meal.
As you may already know, quinoa comes in a few different colors (white, red, even black) and I love the red variety for this recipe purely because the color complements the feel of this bowl. If you’re in a huge hurry, you can skip the egg altogether and have the quinoa on its own – it’s still loaded with flavor, packed with protein, and will satisfy you until the lunch hour. I often soft-boil eggs, but love a good runny fried egg if time allows.
I prefer to enjoy this quinoa bowl warm or room temperature. You can also give it a quick reheat in the microwave if you're headed out the door — by the time you’ve settled in at your desk it’s likely come close to room temperature. I have a hunch your coworkers may be jealous. At the very least, you’ll pat yourself on your back for planning ahead.
Southwest Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Serves 4 to 6
For the dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 small shallot, finely minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the quinoa bowls:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (135g) red quinoa
1 small white onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup drained and rinsed canned black beans
3/4 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes (quartered if they’re on the larger side)
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus more to top
1 medium ripe avocado, sliced, for garnish
4 to 6 large eggs (1 egg for each bowl), to top (optional)
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and shallot and set aside for 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and honey and a pinch of salt and pepper; taste and adjust the seasoning if you’d like.
Use right away or store the dressing in a jam jar in the fridge.
Make the bowls: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the quinoa, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, and salt and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a low boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Uncover, fluff the grains with a fork, and remove from heat. Cover and let to sit for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine black beans, tomato, corn, and cilantro. Fold in cooked quinoa. Serve right away or refrigerate until ready to eat.
To serve: Portion the quinoa into 4 bowls and top with a few slices of avocado, and a sprinkling of cilantro. If you’d like, top with a soft-boiled egg (or a runny fried egg)
For perfect soft-boiled eggs, head on over to our tutorial for suggestions on cook time and easy no-fail tips.
- If planning to make ahead, wait to slice the avocado until right before serving.
To dress it up: If you have a bit more time, I love to sauté a little zucchini to go in the bowl or some hearty greens. Additionally, some cojita or feta cheese would be a really nice touch.
(Image credits: Megan Gordon)