This Cuban quinoa bowl is gently flavored and served with smoky grilled sweet potato, plantain & a zippy avocado-mango salsa. Quick to make, and so tasty.
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I know, you’ve probably read the title of this dish and thought ‘how ridiculously long is that?!’ I thought the same myself but couldn’t really decide on a part to take out to make it shorter. Sure, I could have just said ‘Cuban quinoa bowl’ but that would have been a bit vague and not really tell you much. Plus, it would miss out all of the good stuff that goes with the quinoa.
And I couldn’t pick one of the other bits over the others to highlight. So, you got the lot, but hey, it gives you a fairly good idea what delights I have in store – if I just added ‘delicious’ and ‘quick’ then you’d pretty much have the full picture!
In fairness, this is really more Cuban-style than actually Cuban food (try Cuban roast pork, lechon asado for a more authentic flavor), but I was trying to limit words in the title. I know it doesn’t show. However there’s no limit on how tasty this dish is.
Quinoa is a great, healthy grain to use as a base to add lots of flavors (as in my leftover steak and quinoa bowl). This quinoa bowl is also vegan, gluten free and dairy free. The quinoa is lightly dressed with cumin, lime and orange, with some added onion, garlic and pepper.
The mango and avocado salsa has a punchy fresh lime and cilantro dressing. And the dish is topped off with the tasty smokiness of the grilled sweet potato and plantain. Sweet and savory combine in an all-round delicious dish.
How to make this Cuban quinoa bowl
This dish is really quick to make – the sweet potatoes are largely cooked in the microwave then finished off on the grill, along with the plantain. This is a great cheats way to get some fantastic grilled taste without it taking too long or the sweet potato drying out.
When I first made this, I made the quinoa almost risotto-style with the onion, garlic and pepper cooked first and the quinoa put in and cooked in with the onion base, but it seemed to take most of the good flavor out of the base, so although it means an extra pan, I would suggest instead cooking the onion, garlic and pepper alongside while the quinoa cooks and adding at the end with the citrus dressing to give more of a flavor boost. Finally, chop the salsa ingredients, then serve it all up.
This Cuban quinoa bowl is a delicious, healthy, quick and easy meal to make. It might seem like it has lots of ‘bits’ to it and have a long name, but nothing takes that long and the mix of flavors is so tasty, I wouldn’t be without any of it. Make sure you get a nice mix of things on your fork as you eat, combining sweet and savory deliciousness. I hope you’ll give it a try and agree.
Try these other vegetarian grilling ideas:
- Grilled nectarine salad
- Israeli couscous with grilled vegetables
- Halloumi burger
- Plus get more vegetarian meals in the archives.
Cuban quinoa bowl with grilled sweet potato and plantain and avocado-mango salsa
- 1/2 onion or 1 small
- 1/2 red pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 sweet potatoes or 2 if large
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa 360ml
- 3 cups water 720ml, or light stock
- 1 plantain or 2 if smaller, the ones labelled for frying, the medium-sweet ones
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tbsp orange juice
- 1 1/2 lime juice ie 1 1/2 limes
- 1 mango large
- 1 avocado
- 2 tbsp cilantro coriander, chopped
- Dice the onion and pepper relatively small and finely chop the garlic. Warm the grill and heat the water or stock.
- Wash then pierce the sweet potatoes a few times. Wrap the sweet potatoes in kitchen roll and microwave on high for around 2-3minutes, turn over, then another 2-3minutes (time depends on size of potato and microwave power). They should be soft when squeezed once cooked.
- Warm 1tbsp of oil in a small pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion, pepper and garlic until the onion is soft and starting to brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, put the quinoa and water/stock in a pan, bring to the boil and cook until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has slight 'tails', around 10 minutes.
- While it's cooking, slice the sweet potato fairly thickly, around 1/2in/1.5cm, with skin on and peel then slice the plantain. Grill both on the barbecue for around 3-5 minutes each side until you have a few blackened marks on all the slices. If you don't have a barbecue, you can also do this on a grill pan.
- Once the quinoa has cooked, add the onion mixture along with the remaining 1tbsp of oil, cumin, orange juice and juice of 1/2 lime. Mix well.
- Peel and dice the mango and avocado then mix with the juice of a lime and the chopped cilantro.
- Put some of the quinoa in the bottom of four bowls then top with the grilled sweet potato (you can peel before serving if you like, it just holds together better on the grill with skin on), plantain and some salsa.
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