My husband will tell you he’s not a picky eater, but don’t believe a word of it. Even now that I’ve convinced him real food is good for us, there are foods he won’t touch.
He doesn’t like cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, beets, sweet potatoes or any other mushy orange vegetable, and quinoa.
Apparently quinoa just needed the right mix of spices to hide its texture and he’d eat it happily.
Enter this vegetarian “taco quinoa chili” for dinner – which can even be made in a pressure cooker (like many other easy Instant Pot recipes even my husband can make).
Where did Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa Come From?
This recipe began as “spaghetti and pinto bean chili,” a unique blend of two basic comfort foods that’s highlighted in The Everything Beans Book. I was pretty excited to be able to convert it to a healthier gluten-free version. Sure, you can always use GF pasta, but that gets expensive if you start pricing out your meals.
This is a hearty dish to be sure, thick enough to stand up in the corner with its nose against the wall if it ever gets into trouble.
Serve with a side of bread or tortilla chips and some fresh veggies and no one will leave the table hungry. And the next day, reinvent the leftovers by wrapping them in a homemade tortilla or baking as an enchilada casserole. It’s that thick!
Choose Your Own Adventure: Meatless, Mexican, Grown-Up, Kid-Friendly
As with many of my recipes, this one is super versatile and can totally change depending on the toppings you choose. In the photos you’ll see green and red onion, yellow peppers and feta cheese – the grown-up version. For kiddos, I’d just toss some cheese on top and call it good (but not so pretty for pictures).
It’s a great meatless meal for your weekly vegetarian night or meatless Lenten Fridays, and if you buy expensive meat like I do, you might want to serve something meatless when hosting company – or include this as a side to a meatier meal – to help the meal stretch further without stretching your budget.
Heck, you could even add meat if that’s how you roll. 😉
Plan ahead to soak the quinoa and the pinto beans for maximum nutrition and budget savings (cooking with dry beans beats the can by over 50%!), and plan further ahead by sprouting the quinoa for a few days (instructions here). If you don’t remember or don’t have time, don’t fret it though – eating real food is always better than grabbing a convenience meal, and the second set of instructions can get it on the table FAST if you have an Instant Pot!!
It’s pretty quick and easy on the stovetop, too. Observe:
Stovetop Mexican Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa
- 1 c.dry quinoa
- 1 Tbs. fat, good for sauteeing
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ½ poblano pepper, chopped (green or colored bell works too)
- 1 cayenne pepper, seeded, chopped
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- ½ Tbs. taco seasoning
- 1 tsp.salt
- 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 c. water or stock (beef or chicken)
- 4 c. cooked beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed*
- optional: other veggies like diced or shredded zucchini, greens, more peppers, etc.
- * shredded cheddar or feta cheese
- * diced red or white onion
- * green onion
- * diced colored peppers
- * salsa
- * cubed avocado
- The night before, rinse quinoa and soak in an ample amount of water.
- Drain and rinse quinoa.
- In a large pot, saute the onions and all peppers in oil for about 5 minutes.
- Add spices and salt and stir to combine for a minute, then add tomatoes and water/broth.
- Bring to a boil.
- Stir in quinoa, bring to a boil again and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Add the beans and simmer 5 more minutes until heated through.
- Serve hot with optional toppings.
- Add additional broth or water to reheat leaftovers.
If you want to try the dish with brown rice, I can only imagine it would work out since rice and quinoa have the same water-to-grain ratio. Increase cook time to 40 or 45 minutes.
If you would rather add meat, some crumbled homemade sausage made from any ground meat would be amazing (even half a pound of meat with these seasonings would make a big impact), or just add ground beef or shredded chicken to the pot.
It freezes fine, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch!
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Instant Pot Version
After Bethany showed me how easy it was with her Instant Pot version of chipotle beef barbacoa, I had to try this one in my beloved Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker). Even though I hadn’t taken time to soak the beans, of course it worked out perfectly.
You can either cook the beans (from dry or soaked) in the Instant Pot first, then make the recipe without washing it, OR if you’re really gunning for speed, use pre-cooked beans that are frozen from another day or canned beans. If you use frozen beans, I might add a minute or two to the cook time (which is only 4 minutes to begin with!) in case the block of coldness makes the IP work a little harder.
We’re all about saving time, money and DISHES here at KS!! 😉
- • 1-2 pounds (3-6 cups) dry pinto beans, IF using dry. This will yield extra beans for other recipes.
- • 1 c. dry quinoa
- • 1 Tbs. fat, good for sautéing
- • 1 large onion, chopped
- • ½ poblano pepper, chopped (green or colored bell works too)
- • 1 cayenne pepper, seeded, chopped
- • 2 tsp. cumin
- • 1 tsp.chili powder
- • ½ Tbs. taco seasoning
- • 1 tsp. salt
- • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
- • 2 c. water orstock (beef or chicken)
- • 4 c. cooked beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed*
- • optional: other veggies like diced or shredded zucchini, greens, more peppers, etc.
- • Toppings:
- • shredded cheddar or feta cheese
- • diced red or white onion
- • green onion
- • diced colored peppers
- • salsa
- • cubed avocado
- The night before, rinse quinoa and soak in an ample amount of water. In a separate container (can be the IP itself), soak the pinto beans in twice as much water as beans (IF you’re using dry beans).
- Note: If you forget to soak either, you’ll still be fine starting the recipe the same day. Soaking is just for optimal nutrition.
- Follow the instructions HERE for cooking the dry beans in the Instant Pot.
- At that point you can open the IP lid. Using hot mitts, pour the pot of beans into a colander in the sink to drain. (Use a mesh strainer so you can re-use it with the quinoa, if yours is big enough.)
- Give the pot a quick rinse and return it to the Instant Pot base.
- Select SAUTÉ. Add oil to IP bowl. When display reads HOT add peppers and onions. Cook for five minutes, stirring as necessary.
- Add spices and salt and stir to combine for a minute, then add the tomatoes and water/broth (you can leave it on “saute” during this time to start heating up the liquid and speed up the process of coming to pressure).
- Measure 4 cups of the beans into the pot. Store the rest for another recipe.
- Drain the quinoa into the strainer, give it a quick rinse, and add all of it to the Instant Pot.
- Stir everything up.
- Cancel Saute.
- Check sealing ring, lock the lid, set the pressure valve to “sealing” and press the “Manual” button, using the “minus” button to reduce the number of minutes to 4.
- It will take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure (the machine will say “on” during that time).
- After the 4 minutes count down, set a timer for 10 minutes for a “natural pressure release.”
- After the 10-minute wait, open the valve to “venting” to release any remaining steam. Before opening the lid, give the pot a little back-and-forth "jiggle" to release any steam bubbles trapped in the thick chili.
- Serve hot with optional toppings.
- NOTE: Do not double in a 6-quart Instant Pot! Grains and beans should fill the pot no more than halfway for safety.
If you want to try the dish with brown rice, I can only imagine it would work out since rice and quinoa have the same water-to-grain ratio.
Sometimes our babysitter will start dinner for us while our toddler is napping, and I asked her to test out this recipe for me. She’s learning a lot in the kitchen as a result of being in the Kitchen Stewardship house, but she’s more-or-less a novice in the kitchen.
She reported it was very easy and had to leave just as it was done and smelling great, and she asked me to save her some leftovers because she was dying to try it! I’d say that’s a pretty authentic review. 😉
Other Instant Pot Recipes:
- Paleo & Whole30 BBQ Chicken
- Gluten-free Chipotle Beef (chuck roast or stew beef)
- Pulled Beef BBQ (with a chuck roast)
- Pressure Cooker Mexican Lentils and Rice (chicken or vegetarian)
- Whoe30 BBQ Boneless Pork Ribs
- Fast Smoky Mexican Chicken Soup
- Curried Lemon Coconut Chicken
- Quick Cauliflower Rice in the Instant Pot
- Italian Lentil One-pot Dinner
- Apple Cranberry Steel Cut Oats
- 10 Easy Instant Pot Recipes Even my Husband Can Make
Other Quinoa Recipes
Looking for more soup recipes? You won’t want to miss the eBook Winter Soups, a compilation from over 50 real food bloggers. I truly enjoy having this book in my collection for all the great new ideas. Check it out here.