Quinoa fiesta is a recipe concocted a few years ago when a college roommate of mine had thrown together a mixture of corn, red bell peppers and sauteed onions into a quinoa salad. Since then this recipe has evolved into an incredibly festive, healthy and delicious side dish; one that I am proud to serve to guests at dinner parties.

Before cooking quinoa, the seeds should be rinsed well under cold water in a fine mesh strainer. Quinoa seeds have a unique coating called saponin that will taste bitter if not removed.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry quinoa grain
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of cooked black beans or 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 green onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat before stirring in sliced onion and minced garlic. Saute the mixture until the onion rings have softened, which should take roughly 5 minutes. Transfer the onion and garlic mixture into a large bowl.

In a fine mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa grain well. Add the rinsed quinoa and the chicken broth to the same saute pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in corn and leave on heat for another 5 minutes. Remove the saute pan from heat, and fold in the beans. Season with ground cumin, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the saute pan to cool down for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, add the finely diced red bell pepper, and thinly sliced green onion to the sauteed onion and garlic mixture. Fold into the cooked quinoa. Top with cilantro before serving.