Recipe: Mesquite-spiced quinoa with sausage & black beans

Quinoa with Sausage and Black BeansI actually whipped together this recipe last weekend, so this post is long overdue. Turns out I’m still playing a bit of catch up from being on the road for business this past week — and with another stint away from home coming up shortly, I better get my feet under me right quick. Any and all avoidance of a Pig Faceplant is a good thing…

So, this meal came about while browsing my total fave grocery spot in the whole world — Trader Joe’s, no doi —  for meal ideas that I could make for Chris in advance of my departure, or that he could whip together himself. If it’s been a while since you’ve inventoried the Trader Joe’s freezer section, give it a skim. It’s brimming with bibimbap, sweet potato gnocchi, Sicilian pizza, those fabulously decadent kobe-style burgers and more and could easily be a black hole for all home cooking if one weren’t motivated to do more than heat and eat.

Perfect for bachelor dinspiration, right? Except we don’t have a microwave.

I’ll save the why we don’t have a microwave rant for later (it’s short: first it was driven by space, now it’s implied superiority, muahaha), but it is kind of a pain when you’re staring at a frozen burrito that takes 3 minutes to nuke but 35 minutes to bake. I can inhale a whole lot of peanut butter while impatience gets the better of me during that 35 minutes, let me tell you. It is No Bueno.

So. In lieu of picking up a quasi-instant meal for hubs at TJs, I did what I should have done from the get-go and made a mega-portion of one meal that he could easily eat cold or at room temperature later. Enter: Mesquite-Spiced Quinoa with Sausage and Black Beans.

We do a lot of kitchen-sink style dinners around here, and this Tex-Mexish recipe is really no different. Plus, this particular variation is a powerhouse of protein featuring prepared chicken sausage, black beans, and quinoa-the-wonder-grain, ta-da! Loaded up with fresh CSA veggies, it’s one-stop shopping for all the nutrition you’d seek from a balanced meal.

Mesquite-Spiced Quinoa with Sausage and Black Beans
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking Time: 25 mins | Serves: 4

Note: There’s no added salt in this recipe because of the seasoned sausage, black beans, mesquite spice and bouillon, which I think deliver a satisfying hit of sodium on their own. And regarding bouillon, I go back and forth between using chicken stock and Better than Bouillon Chicken in dishes like this. In this instance, I went with the reduced-sodium version of the latter, but you could just as easily cook your quinoa in stock (omitting the bouillon), or swap out the chicken version of either option for veggie. In fact, with veggie stock and the sausage omitted, this would make an equally satisfying vegan lunch or supper.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 T Better than Bouillon (see Note)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s fully cooked Sweet Basil Pesto Smoked Chicken and Turkey Sausage, sliced in half lengthwise (or other cooked sausage of your choice)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz. kale, stripped from stems, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 15 oz. can seasoned black beans
  • 1.5 tsp Sweet Mesquite seasoning (yes, it’s from my local Costco)
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

Add quinoa and bouillon to rice cooker and add water/cook according to cooker directions. (No rice cooker? Follow the instructions on the quinoa package. No quinoa package? High five for purchasing in bulk! Follow these easy quinoa instructions from The Kitchn.) Meanwhile, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil over a med-high flame in a large skillet and sear sausages, cut side down, until brown and crisped, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and slice at an angle. To same pan, saute onion and bell pepper with black pepper to taste until translucent, about 2-3 minutes; add black beans with liquid, kale and mesquite seasoning. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until kale is thoroughly wilted, about 10 mins. Add cooked quinoa to skillet (your rice cooker should pop right about this time) and stir to combine. Top with sliced sausages. Serve hot, or refrigerate for lunch or dinner the next day and enjoy cold or at room temp.

Hashtag-What-I-Ate-In-Vegas
Pig hiatus + out-of-bloffice protocol