IMG 3508 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Side Dish

The younger version of myself disdained Mexican food. This was a bit of a problem given everyone else in my immediate family really enjoyed tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and all Mexican food dishes in between. The only thing I liked about taco night at home was that we got to use a large, divided plate to hold the toppings. That’s right, I liked the plate that held the tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and black olives in individual compartments rather than the tacos themselves.

When Mom and Dad took my sister and I out to eat, I’m fairly certain my vote for where to dine was “any place but Mexican” instead of a vote for a specific restaurant. This was a lost cause. The only thing I really liked eating at the Mexican restaurants where we ended up was the Mexican-style rice.

IMG 3445 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Side Dish

Since quinoa seems to be popping up all over the place lately, I decided to turn my favorite Mexican dish – Mexican-style rice – and apply it to a different grain –  quinoa. Except quinoa isn’t a grain, it’s a seed.

The really cool thing about quinoa is it is one of only two plant sources of complete protein that supplies all nine essential amino acids.  The human body can make 13 of the 22 amino acids found in protein, but it needs to get the other nine from food. Quinoa, along with soy, is a one-stop shop for those nine essential amino acids. As I’m sure you have deduced, I am neither a medical professional nor nutritionist, so I learned all of this information at

IMG 3447 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Side Dish

I started to recreate a Mexican Rice dish using a recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, but two ingredients in I realized I was doing it completely wrong. Or rather, I was making the dish as I imagined one would make it rather than follow a recipe. That usually ends in a fail dish more often than not, but in this case, I liked what I came up with.

If Mexican-style Quinoa is not your thing, but you would like to try cooking with quinoa, check out my Quinoa board on Pinterest to see more recipe ideas. Until tomorrow, enjoy!

Day 1: The Appetizers
Day 2: The Main Dish
Day 3: The Side Dish
Day 4: The Drink
Day 5: The Dessert
Mexican Quinoa
Recipe type: Side
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced carrots
  • ½ cup peas
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for serving, if desired
  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.
  2. When the quinoa is tender, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Place the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté until fragrant, about one to two minutes.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet, then stir in the tomato sauce, vegetables and salt, to taste.
  5. Stir until well blended, then remove from heat.
  6. Add the cilantro just before serving to avoid wilting, and serve with lime wedges if desired.
Kick up the flavor of the quinoa by cooking it in chicken or vegetable broth rather than water.

67E87027C4CC634217943A944D12A08F Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Side Dish

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