We’re right around that time when the itch for spring is palpable. At school, the kids are wearing shorts (even though it’s still 50 degrees!) and the spring sports teams are in full swing. All of a sudden, the wintry comfort food seems dreary but the grill is still stored away—I call this culinary limbo.
This Mexican quinoa stew is brightly colored and studded with the promise of summer; green cilantro and creamy avocado present a “think-spring” meal while the spices, potatoes and hearty quinoa warm the bones and fill up the tummy. I love a dish that makes double-digit servings, as the leftovers can serve double duty as lunch for a few days. Plus, lots of food for a low number of calories (just 224!) can also help you get ready for the impending bathing-suit season.
Mexican Quinoa Stew
Serves eight to 10
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
5 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. baby red skinned potatoes, halved
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. quinoa, rinsed if necessary
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped coarse (or a 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained)
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
3 c. baby spinach, optional
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 c. ricotta salata or feta, for serving
1. Sauté onion and pepper in oil in a large pot for five to eight minutes or until softened.
2. Add salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and sauté until fragrant, three minutes.
3. Add potatoes and chicken broth, cover with lid, and turn heat to high. When it reaches boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Add quinoa and simmer until tender, 10 minutes longer.
5. Add tomatoes, corn and peas and heat through for several minutes.
6. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro and baby spinach, if using.
7. Ladle stew into bowls and divide avocado and cheese between bowls.
Per serving: 224 calories, 8.3 fat grams (including 2.1 grams saturated fat), 7 milligrams cholesterol, 630 milligrams sodium, 29.6 grams carbs, 5.9 grams fiber, 4.3 grams sugar, 9.8 grams protein.
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Becca Boyd is a wife and new mom who teaches culinary courses to students at Radnor High School. She creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen and blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.