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Black Bean Cocoa Quinoa

Posted May 12 2011 8:46pm

I was at Wholefood’s recently and while browsing the bulk bin aisle, I wanted to purchase an ingredient that I have never tried before.

I saw the red quinoa and started scooping it into a bag. I’ve had quinoa before but never had the red kind. I heard it is supposed to be nuttier than the regular kind.

I was excited to try it out and once I got home, I looked for recipes that I wanted to try.

I chose to make the Black Bean Cocoa Quinoa recipe I found from Emily’s blog Daily Garnish because I’ve never tried cooking a dish before using cocoa. I also love dishes that have a lot of texture so after reading all the ingredients she used, I knew there would be a lot of different texture.

By the way, Emily just moved to Seattle so I want to say “Welcome to the West Coast Emily !”


I used the ingredients I had available and adapted the dish from  the original recipe .

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you don’t want it to be spicy)
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 large onion
  • 1.5 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed

Optional add-ins:   avocado and tomatoes

The secret ingredient that makes this recipe so good is the COCOA powder.

  • Start by rinsing the quinoa – this removes some of the bitterness and soapy residue that is sometimes on the outer shells.
  • 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! I used chili powder, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and coriander.
  • Cook your quinoa on 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!

                   Before                                                                  After

IMG_5663 IMG_5670

  • While the quinoa cooks, you can begin to cut the onions and bell peppers. 


  • 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 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.

  IMG_5667 IMG_5673

  • 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.


This dish was really delicious. The flavor is complex, but they all compliment each other.


Cooking for the first time with cocoa, I didn’t really  know what to expect. I know it’s not chocolate but for some reason I thought it would have a hint of sweetness, but not at all. I think it added richness to the dish.

The bell peppers, onions and black beans were great together. I also like the kick that the cayenne pepper and chili powder added. I cooked this dish for me and my mom, so I held back a little on the spiciness.


I didn’t have any avocado and tomatoes, but I would imagine they would be great add-ins.


I also loved the red quinoa and how nuttier and chewier it is than the regular quinoa. I’m glad I tried it.

 I enjoyed the dish with baked fish and green beans sautéed in butter.


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