Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Black bean and avocado quinoa bowl

Easy black bean and avocado quinoa bowl, with spicy arugula, sharp cheddar cheese and homemade pico de gallo: a healthy meal in 15 minutes.

Healthy black bean quinoa bowl with arugula and avocado

Regular readers know that I'm all about healthy, easy weeknight dinners. While I can appreciate a complex and involved dinner recipe when the outcome is amazing, I reserve them for weekends when there's more time for meal preparation. During the week, I'm still into amazing outcomes, but I want to achieve them much more quickly.

I like to make grain bowls for dinner because they are easy but also really nutritious, with seemingly endless combinations of ingredients. While I used to make almost exclusively rice bowls, I now favor quinoa for these flavorful bowls -- I love the little extra crunch, plus it's easy to freeze and thaw.

This particular bowl, with black beans, creamy avocado, spicy arugula and sharp cheddar cheese, was born because I had a few extra tomatoes from the farmer's market hanging around. Rather than simply chop them up and add them to the bowl, I decided to turn them into a bold pico de gallo, using an easy recipe I picked up from Chris of Shared Appetite.

fresh pico de gallo from Shared Appetite
Pico de gallo, photo and recipe courtesy of Shared Appetite

Seriously -- making this fresh salsa is so freakin' easy, you won't believe it. You can, of course, make a batch and serve it with crispy tortilla chips (an awesome snack), as Chris shows in the photo of his pico de gallo. But it's bold flavor is the perfect topping to my healthy, fresh Mex quinoa bowl (tip: definitely soak the onion in ice water as Chris suggests -- it really does make them less pungent!).

Once you've whipped up the pico de gallo (maybe even the day before, if you're me), it takes no time at all to pull this bowl together. In fact, it only takes 15 minutes, the length of time it takes the quinoa to cook. Yep, just get all your other ingredients chopped while the quinoa cooks and then -- SHAZAM! -- you've got yourself a healthy meal.

There's a lot of room for interpretation here. I usually don't measure out the ingredients for my quinoa bowls (although I did for the purposes of this recipe -- because that's how much I love you); what goes in depends on the size of the bowl I choose (usually gigantor) and what I'm in the mood for (usually a boatload of avocado). I like to load this one up with lots of spicy arugula. Sometimes I even throw in leftover grilled chicken. Let your cravings be your guide!

But don't try to be a calorie hero and skip the cheese entirely. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Sure, you'd save a few calories, but some shredded sharp cheddar stirred into this quinoa bowl makes it almost too good for words.

Additionally, I'd recommend making a double batch of the quinoa and freezing half. That way, when you really need a quick dinner, you'll already be well on your way -- you know, in case 15 freakin' minutes wasn't fast enough for you, Speedy Gonzalez.

What's your favorite grain bowl ingredient combination? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Quinoa bowl with black beans and avocado: dinner in 15 minutes!

Fast-and-Fresh Black Bean and Avocado Quinoa Bowl

The recipe as written serves 2 or three -- adjust according to the size of your bowl and your appetite.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, diced
2-3 large handfuls arugula
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cabot Seriously Sharp)
1/2 cup fresh pico de gallo

In a saucepan, combine the quinoa and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Toss gently. Top with additional pico de gallo, if desired.

-- print recipe --


  1. This is beautiful...what an awesome looking dish! I love how you used quinoa :) So awesome that you teamed up with Chris...one of the best dude bloggers around, right!!!

    1. Thanks, Sandra -- I'm so glad I found Chris' pico de gallo, it makes this dish extra awesome!

  2. I am so guilty of making things too complicated, even for weeknight dinners. You always inspire me to keep it simple, Jules. I'm not sure why I don't make dinners like this more often. I so love everything in this bowl. Awesome post!

    1. I'm all about keeping it simple, Bill -- thanks! :-)

  3. Man, this looks amazing! Truly! All the colours and flavours, I am so into this. I think my favourite grain combo right now is Freekah instead of rice in a curry. Does that count? :)