This recipe really hit a home run in our household! It’s cheesy and totally taco-y… everything you’ve come to love and expect from a Mexican meal, minus one thing – the meat! (I should mention to any newcomers that we are by no means anti-meat in my family. We love meat! We just don’t eat it everyday for budgetary reasons.) And what I love so much about this Cheesy Quinoa Taco Bake is that, meatless or not, it doesn’t feel like “diet” food and it doesn’t feel like “budget” food. It feels like party food! (My favorite kind.)
I originally discovered the inspiration for this recipe on Half-Baked Harvest, a lovely blog I frequent regularly. Tieghan’s recipes never fail to get me salivating… both over her gourmet flavor combo choices and her stunning photography. Too bad I can’t afford to buy 4 kinds of cheese per week. To be honest, I usually find myself pinning Tieghan’s recipes knowing full well that they are way out of my league, budget-wise and time-wise. But I’m a foodie at heart and I can’t help but dream! Which is why I continue to pin outlandish things like Cranberry, Brie, and Brussels Sprout Nachos. I’m predicting it right now… the day I actually make those will be the day after my last child graduates college.
Aaaaaanyway, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of quinoa because it is a plant-based source of complete protein, and a great substitute for meat in chilis, casseroles, salads, you name it! It’s incredibly healthful and very affordable. Not to mention EASY to cook! (It steams up even more quickly than rice, and is every bit as versatile.) I loves it.
Don’t know how to cook plain quinoa? You can find the simple method here!
If you’ve never tried it before, here’s a great quinoa recipe to start with. And pile on whatever toppings your imagination can think up… lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, salsa, fresh cilantro, lime juice, bell pepper, onion, the WORKS! Serve alongside a hefty pile or tortilla chips for dipping, and dig in!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if using canned
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 cup beer or water
- 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
- ½ C. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- ⅓ C. Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
- Optional Toppings:
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ head iceberg or romaine lettuce
- Tortilla chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-qt oval or 9x13" baking dish.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add onions and garlic.
- Cook 5 minutes or until the veggies are soft.
- Next add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, pepper, salt and cayenne. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook 1 minute.
- Stir in cooked quinoa and black beans.
- Add the lime juice and beer (or water). Simmer until the liquid is nearly gone, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in crushed tortilla chips, pepper jack cheese and some fresh chopped cilantro if desired.
- Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Top with the cheddar cheese.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (using broiler for the last 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly.)
- Remove from the oven and top with fresh cilantro, tomatoes, diced avocado, lettuce, etc. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping. Enjoy!
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