Spiced Taco Beef with Beans and Quinoa

My simple and easily customizable recipe for stretching spiced taco beef with nourishing pantry staples.

This post could alternatively be titled: How to Feed a Family with One Pound of Ground Beef. Over the years, my spiced taco beef has evolved to include black beans and golden quinoa. It’s a quick and easy recipe that comes fully endorsed by two teens and a tween.

So, we’re a family of flexitarians who use the planetary health diet as a guide. What does that mean? We have a repertoire of plant-based meals and most nights sit down to a vegetarian dinner. However, we also consume animal products in moderation, as long as they are ethically sourced.

My kids love to chow down on beef tacos as much as the next person. This recipe for spiced taco beef with beans and quinoa as my flexitarian compromise.

Why choose Quinoa for Spiced Taco Beef?

Quinoa is a gluten-free plant-based protein and grown right here in Canada. It’s a teeny tiny seed that is also loaded with magnesium, iron and calcium.

Most of the quinoa we find in stores in North America comes from the high Andes of Bolivia/Peru. But did you know? Canadian prairie farmers have been cultivating the grain for decades. I buy mine through Flourist, which is premium quinoa and 100% traceable back to the farmer in Iron Springs, Alberta.

Quinoa takes on the flavour of the dishes you pair it with. This makes quinoa an ideal add-in in for chili, stews and taco beef.

Why add quinoa at all? Well, as mentioned above, I’m feeding a small army of kids and they eat a ton of tacos. With a planetary diet in mind, we’re always trying to reduce the amount of meat we consume.

Why not make it all vegetarian? Most days I do. We eat a lot of bean and cheese burritos and tacos using this recipe for Frijoles Rancheros. We also rotate in our delicious Sheet Pan Fish Tacos whenever I get my hands on fresh local haddock.

Then there are other days when I make it to my butcher for grass-fed, local beef. And I know I’m all set for Taco Tuesday.

Do-Ahead Suggestions

Quinoa is great for batch cooking! I frequently freeze grains like quinoa, farro and brown rice pilaf in small, 1 or 2 cup portions so I have have them for a mid-day salad or side without having to turn on the stove or babysit a pot.

Beans can also be cooked in advance and frozen. While I typically just open a can of black beans for this recipe, there are other days (usually in winter) when I simmer a pot of pinto beans on the stove.

Once prepared and cooled, this spiced taco beef with beans and quinoa can also be frozen. It’s great to have a stash in the freezer for a quick weeknight batch of burritos.

I also use this taco filling for our Campfire Toasted Burritos for our summer camping trips. They get wrapped in tin foil and baked in the ashes until toasty. They can also be heated over coals on the barbecue for a similar smoky flavour.

This spiced taco beef filling is designed to be very versatile. Some days I will add two can of beans and no quinoa. Other days I double up on the quinoa. Any way you cook it up, you’re getting a nourishing protein-rich meal. Taste as you go and make sure it it well seasoned.

Make it quick: Prepare this recipe with 3 tablespoons of Easy Fajita Spice Mix from fish tacos. I keep a jar of the blend in my freezer for dishes like this one.

Make it even quicker: Prepare the beef, beans, onion, and quinoa with store-bought taco seasoning. Dress it up with lie juice and chopped cilantro. Feed your family. Repeat.

Spiced Taco Beef with Beans and Quinoa

My simple and easily customizable recipe for stretching spiced taco beef with nourishing pantry staples.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Gluten-free
Essential Ingredient: beef
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 193kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb organic lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 1 14 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro stems

Instructions

  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet and add the olive oil. Sear the beef over high heat, breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon, for about five minutes or until the meat is grey and crumbed apart. Drain off excess fat or liquid.
  • Add the onion. Cook over medium low heat for another five minutes until onions are soft. Add the beans to the beef.
  • Sprinkle in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper to the pan. Stir to combine. Cook the taco meat for five minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the cooked quinoa to the beef and bean mix. Zest a lime over the top, then cut in half and juice the lime into the pan. Sprinkle over the chopped cilantro stems and stir everything together.
  • Cook the taco filling on low for another few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. You may wish to add more salt or chili powder.
  • Serve at once with taco fixings. Alternately, cool completely, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.

Notes

I make this taco seasoning medium spiced for our family but you can spice them up (or down) as much as you like with additional chili powder or crushed red chilies.
You can use cilantro leaves, too. But I usually serve the leaves as a taco garnish and chop up the stems to soften in the taco meat. Zero waste!

Nutrition

Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 448mg | Potassium: 397mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 161IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 3mg

One more thing….regarding the Planetary Healthy Diet….should I write a full post on this? Would that be something you as a reader would be interested in? Let me know it the comments. Thanks!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. I’m excited to try this tonight! I had no idea that there was Canadian grown quinoa! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for that.

  2. Looks delicious (and something my picky kids might actually eat)! I’m going to give it a try tomorrow, I think I actually have everything.
    What are your usual taco fixings? Do you buy the regular shells from the supermarket? (Can you tell we didn’t do Taco Tuesday at home growing up, lol)

  3. I would love to hear more about the Planetary Health Diet. I do like meat, and we eat a lot of it, but I’m always looking for versatile ways to ease up–like this recipe. We eat meat + beans together but I’ve never thought of adding quinoa. Not sure why?!

  4. Aimée, I’d love to hear more about your health diet! And I had tacos in the menu this week so I will definitely try your version. I love that it will make enough filling for leftovers the next day!!! Thank you!

  5. Can’t wait to try this. I’d love to hear more about the planetary health diet. Thanks, as always, Aimée.

  6. I have leftover quinoa in the fridge… it will now get a next life as taco filling 🙂
    The Planetary Health Diet sounds interesting, I’d be interested in hearing more.

  7. Flourist quinoa is great – so are their dried beans and chickpeas- easy to batch cook in the InstantPot and freeze.
    I would also love to hear about the Planetary Diet. I grew up eating meat and potatoes and am also trying to incorporate more vegetarian friendly options. Love your recipes!

  8. I had a can of pork and beans and used that instead of black beans – delicious anyway!

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! We’re heading out on a camping trip off grid and froze a half dozen of these for easy meals. I made some other burritos too but these are by far the best tasting. I cooked my quinoa in chicken broth and that added a little something to the flavor I think. Tasty little calorie rockets.

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