Cuban Fried Quinoa with Black Beans and Smoky Tempeh

Cuban Fried Quinoa with Black Beans & Smoky Tempeh Photos by Lindsey Johnson

Not so many years ago, quinoa was a mystery to me. A box a hippie friend of my parents gave me when I was 13 (in the hopes I would maintain a balanced diet) sat in the pantry for a few years before I tossed it. So, it’s completely nutty and a bit romantic to think about how inseparable quinoa and I are now.

When I say inseparable, I mean I put it in everything! Looking for food inspiration? Pick out an old recipe and find a way to sub quinoa for something. Burgers? Yup. Salads? Of course. Dare I say, baked goods? Quinoa will make them better!

Cuban Fried Quinoa
Subbing quinoa for rice is sort of a no-brainer. You can usually get away with making a direct swap, and the result is a new, improved and more nutritious dish. This, however, was my first time making the quinoa switch in fried rice. Until now, I’ve sat by and watched dubiously as other bloggers made claims that quinoa is capable of obtaining the savory flavor and crisp texture of my old Chinese-buffet favorite. Turns out, they weren’t lying. Fried quinoa is amazing.

This version of fried quinoa “rice” has another twist: While you may be familiar with Cuban rice and beans, fried Cuban rice and beans are another story. This recipe, an adaptation of a Cuban Fried Rice recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, is more of a fusion-type dish involving Cuban flavors and Chinese technique, hence the beans and pineapple. You’ll typically find pork in Cuban fried rice, hence the smoky tempeh, which perfects the flavor and texture of this dish. Think fried rice, only better.

Cuban Fried Quinoa with Black Beans and Smoky Tempeh

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Cuban Fried Quinoa with Black Beans and Smoky Tempeh

Smoky tempeh takes the place of pork, and quinoa replaces the rice in this adaptation of Better Homes and Gardens' Cuban Fried Rice.

Ingredients

    For the Smoky Tempeh
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • For the Fried Quinoa
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium pineapple, cored, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Instructions

    Prepare the tempeh:
  1. Whisk the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and liquid smoke together in a small bowl.
  2. Add the tempeh cubes and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes while you prepare your quinoa. Stir the cubes once or twice during marinating to keep them well-coated.
  3. Prepare the quinoa:
  4. Rinse the quinoa well under cold running water, then transfer it to a small saucepan with vegetable broth over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Cover and simmer until the broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the quinoa to sit for another 5 minutes, covered.
  6. Make your Cuban Fried Quinoa:
  7. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh cubes; reserve excess marinade.
  8. Cook the tempeh, flipping occasionally, until lightly browned and crispy on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the tempeh from the skillet and transfer to a plate. Return the skillet to the stovetop.
  9. Arrange the pineapple slices in the skillet and cook until tender and browned, about three minutes on each side. (You may have to cook them in batches depending on the size of your skillet.) Remove from the skillet and transfer to a plate, then return the skillet to the stovetop.
  10. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, along with the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño. Sauté until the onion and pepper just begin to soften a bit, about 3 minutes.
  11. Increase heat to high and add the quinoa and reserved marinade to skillet. Cook the quinoa, tossing frequently with a spatula, until it becomes slightly translucent and begins to crisp up, 3-5 minutes.
  12. Add beans and cooked tempeh to skillet and cook for another minute to incorporate, tossing frequently.
  13. Divide pineapple slices among plates and spoon quinoa mixture over pineapple slices. Top with green onions.

Notes

As is the case with fried rice, this works great with leftover quinoa. You'll need about 3 cups.

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Alissa

About Alissa

Alissa Saenz crafts vegan recipes for her blog Connoisseurus Veg. When she’s not cooking and blogging about it, she’s probably engaging in some form of yoga, arts & crafts, or lawyering.   Read more from Alissa →

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Comments

    • says

      I’ve found that people seem to love tempeh or hate it. It’s got more texture than tofu and a distinct flavor. I loved it the first time I tried it. You should definitely give it a try, and then at least you’ll know :)

  1. Stacy says

    Made this for dinner tonight. I found the Liquid Smoke at Whole Foods and you could definitely taste it. The whole thing was delicious!

  2. Alex says

    I made this and was blown away. It is so good! I forgot to get bell peppers and left out jalapenos because my partner can’t handle spice. I mistakenly got pineapple chunks instead of slices, so I stirred them in when I took everything off the heat and it incorporated nicely.

    • AlissaAlissa says

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad it worked out for you, even without the peppers – my boyfriend isn’t into spicy food so I have to leave the hot peppers out of lots of my dishes as well. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  3. says

    Quinoa and I didn’t become best buddies until college and now we’re basically inseparable! I love the idea of subbing it in for rice wherever possible…and these smoky delicious cuban rice, beans, and tempeh sound hellagood.

    • says

      That seems to be the way it goes for lots of people…quinoa can be a little scary at first, until you try it and realize how awesome it is. After that it’s you and quinoa, together forever <3

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