My Biggest Reason to Miss the West Coast

Healthy ground chicken burrito with quinoa and seasoned black beans I made last week.

Healthy ground chicken burrito with quinoa and seasoned black beans I made last week.

I’m a very trusting person. I love to believe in people, in good, in possibility. I want to believe that real Mexican food exists in New York City, that I don’t have to travel 3000 miles to find an al pastor burrito with real salsa that isn’t having an identity crisis which makes it believe it’s marinara. I do want to find a taqueria that I love.

But one can only take so much disappointment before giving up on the expectations that led to it. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…stop trying to eat authentic Mexican food on the East Coast.

Tonight I have a dinner meeting at Rachel’s Taqueria in Brooklyn. It was suggested to me by a native of San Diego, California, which means he has at some point in his life had the pleasure of consuming fresh, spicy, delicious SoCal Mexican food. He insists, from one West Coaster to the next, that I will not be disappointed.

Rachel's facade. We shall see if it is just a facade indeed. I hope it exceeds my expectations!

Rachel’s facade. We shall see if it is just a facade indeed. I hope it exceeds my expectations!

While my hopes are perhaps a little higher than usual, considering the circumstances, I realize that he’s been living here for at  least a decade, and it’s entirely possible he now holds Mexican cuisine to the same standards as our fellow New Yorkers. So, I must maintain some level of apprehension in order to protect my heart from potential disappointment.

That’s why I’ve prepared a nice little dish to remind myself of my deep love for Mexican food. In case I can’t stomach the marinara-flavored salsa or the Uncle Ben’s rice I’ve learned to expect, I can come home to some flavors that will do the Latin cuisine a bit of justice.

Tasty ground chicken burrito filling.

Tasty ground chicken burrito filling.

I will report back soon with a review of my experience at Rachel’s. Until then, wish me luck, and enjoy this recipe for healthy Mexican quinoa!

Quinoa's simmering, and chicken is almost ready to go.

Quinoa’s simmering, and chicken is almost ready to go.

One-pot mexican quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I prefer white pepper)
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • Shredded cheese, cheddar or Mexican blend
Seasoned black beans for our burritos.

Seasoned black beans for our burritos.

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet or pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add garlic and jalapeño, cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 1 min).
  3. Increase heat to high and add tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until blackened (about 3 min).
  4. Add quinoa, corn, black beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and broth. Cook to boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover with lid. Cook until water has evaporated and quinoa is translucent and tender. If water evaporates before quinoa is cooked through, add more water by the 1/4 cup until fully cooked through.
  6. Stir in fresh cilantro and garnish with shredded cheese, salsa or hot sauce, and sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt for a healthier substitution).
  7. Enjoy!
Finished product. Dig in!

Finished product. Dig in!

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3 thoughts on “My Biggest Reason to Miss the West Coast

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