Black Bean Cocoa Quinoa Recipe

Last night’s dinner featured a good mixture of a lot of my favorite ingredients.  Quinoa is is a vegetarian wonderfood – one of the only sources of complete protein other than soybeans and a few others.  Conveniently, it’s also really tasty, and can be adapted to work in all sorts of different recipes.  In the past I’ve shown you quinoa tabouli and my three-grain chewy energy bars, and today I bring you…

Black Bean Cocoa Quinoa

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  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you can’t handle a kick!)
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small avocado, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (optional)

To Prepare:  Start by rinsing the quinoa – this removes some of the bitterness and soapy residue that is sometimes on the outer shells.  I used red quinoa for this recipe, but it is fine to substitute traditional quinoa. 

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The best way to get good flavor into your grains is to cook them WITH spices, rather than adding spices in at the end.  The heat of the cooking process intensifies the spice flavor!  For this recipe, I used chili powder, cinnamon sticks, cayenne pepper, and coriander (un-pictured because I used it all).

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And the secret ingredient that makes this recipe so good is the COCOA powder.  Maybe it is my Cincinnati blood, and the fact that I was raised on Skyline Chili, but I think the combination of cocoa powder and chili powder can’t be beat. 

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Back to the cooking process – first things first, you need to cook your quinoa.  Depending on your preferred method of cooking, there are two ways to do this.

1.  Rice Cooker – I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this is my preferred cooking method.  Combine quinoa, spices, and cocoa powder with 2 cups liquid and cook on “quick cooking” setting.  Wait for the signal that the quinoa is ready, and fluff!  Easy as that.

2. Stove top – Combine quinoa with 2 cups water, spices, and cocoa powder, and bring up to a simmer.  Once simmering, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.  Be careful to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan!

While the quinoa cooks, you can begin to sauté the onions and peppers, and prep your tomato and avocado for topping.  I got all of these ingredients at last weekend’s farmer’s market – even the onion!

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On medium high heat, add a little bit of olive oil to your pan, and then cook the diced onion until soft.  After ten minutes or so, add the pepper and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.  At this point the quinoa should (hopefully) be ready.  Go ahead and fluff your quinoa and add it to the pan with your veggies, along with a rinsed can of black beans. 

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Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir over medium heat for just a few minutes, to ensure that the mixture is heated throughout. 

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Top with tomato and avocado (and a glob of Greek yogurt if you like dairy), and enjoy!

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I stuffed some into a whole wheat pita and ate it like a sandwich, with an additional heaping pile on the side. 

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This recipe is fun because, while there are hints of southwestern chili-like flavors, the cocoa powder is what really steals the show.