Alright Already

Santa-Fe Rice & Beans

Santa-Fe Rice & Beans

When I saw the /52weeksofcooking challenge for last week, I was a bit thrown.  TV dinners aren’t something I grew up eating, outside of the rare kidcuisine, and most TV dinners follow a very standard non-vegetarian format.  While I debated replicating the format (1 meat, 2 veggies, 1 dessert), I also thought about some of the vegetarian friendly frozen dinners I enjoyed in high school.  When I first started out on the vegetarian path I had very limited cooking experience, and very little time to experiment since I had school, choir, and a part-time job.  When I got home from work at 10PM I wanted something quick and easy, so microwave dinners were perfect.  One of my favorites was called Santa Fe Rice & Beans, and while I haven’t had it in almost a decade I can still remember the “trick” to getting the rice to be warm without overcooking the beans.  So I set out to recreate this late childhood dish, with delicious (and healthier!) results.

Alright Already

Serves 5-6


1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 vidalia onion, diced

1 serrano chili, diced (can sub jalapeno)

1 cup quinoa, well rinsed

1/2 cup brown rice, pre-soaked (if needed)

1 cup vegetable stock, low sodium

1 14.5 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes

1 cup water, divided

1 1/2 cups pre-soaked black beans

1 cup pre-soaked pinto beans

shredded cheese, optional

sour cream (optional)

tomatilla salsa (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking for 7 minutes before adding the pepper. Cook for an additional three minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa along with the brown rice, vegetable stock, tomatoes, and half cup of water. Bring to a quick boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove cover, stir, and then add the remaining water along with the beans. Recover and cook for a final 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa then serve and enjoy!

This might not be the standard TV dinner, but I can promise that I enjoyed this dinner many times while watching ER or Law & Order or whatever was on at 10 o’clock back in NBC’s glory days.   I used homemade salsa verde (tomatillo salsa) based on the recipe on this page, however jar salsa, or a tomato based salsa, would work just as well.