lunchbox life: mexican quinoa bowls

image(48)Welcome back to school, gang!  Back to school means back to school lunches, so this is the official fourth semester of lunchbox life.  I started Instagram-ing my lunches in January 2013, then we started the blog in April 2013, so happy fourth semester of lunchbox life to everyone!

This week’s plan includes a stellar list of healthy and seasonal items: quinoa (the super grain), black beans, zucchini from our CSA, and local Silver Queen corn.  After an indulgent weekend of eating in Athens (watch for a blog post about that trip soon!), I knew I needed a restart in the healthy eating department.  The quinoa and black beans are excellent sources of protein in this meatless lunch, plus I’ve added mushrooms and Cotija cheese to round out this healthy and filling dish.

You could eat this bowl as a cold salad, or you could heat it in the microwave as a burrito bowl, or you could do both and figure out which way is your favorite throughout the week.  Today, I ate it cold and thought it was fantastic.  It has a pasta salad or rice salad feel, and the flavors from the Mexican seasoning really stand up to the ingredients in this dish.  As always, feel free to modify the recipe based on your preferences.  I added cilantro and green onion because I enjoy the brightness of flavor, but you could always leave them out or substitute fresh oregano or parsley.

WW info: 5 servings at 10 PP each–a complete meal, for sure!

Mexican Quinoa Bowls

1 1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked

3 cloves garlic

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 large zucchini, diced

1/2 lb. white mushrooms, sliced

3 ears Silver Queen Corn

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

zest of three limes (use juice in dressing)

4 oz. Cotija cheese, diced (you could also used crumbled queso fresco)

2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

salt and pepper

Dressing:

juice of three limes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. organic taco seasoning (seriously buy the organic–the lack of extra preservatives is worth the extra cents)

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, and throw in the peeled garlic cloves to the pot or rice cooker.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Toss the diced zucchini and sliced mushrooms in the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and about 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables at the 10 minute mark.  Lightly char the corn on a grill pan, then slice the kernels off.

When the quinoa is cooked, add it to a large bowl along with the black beans, lime zest, corn kernels, zucchini, and mushrooms; toss to combine.  Next, add the dressing ingredients together and either whisk them in a small bowl or shake them in a small jar.  Add the dressing to the quinoa mixture and allow the quinoa to soak up the dressing.  Next, add the cheese, green onions, and cilantro.  Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

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