I've had my car since I was 16, so there are some awesome artifacts that pop up every once in a while. Things I've found most recently include: a Hello Kitty mechanical pencil, a 90s-era scrunchie, that Bob Marley album I had on repeat in high school, lots of change, an old Tortilla chip that I swear is completely my brother's fault.I have no problem blaming my brother because, he's had a habit of eating in my car ever since high school.
We'd go car cushion scavenging and have just enough change to hit up the El Pollo Loco Dollar Menu, where we'd religiously order BRC (beans, rice, cheese) burritos. We don't hit up EPL anymore, but I wanted to give my brother a recipe that was just as simple and healthier. So this is my twist on the BRC, aka the BQC (beans, quinoa, cheese) taco. So, make some quinoa, keep some beans on hand, and then you'll be set to make this on the spot.
sliced into 1/2-inch rings
or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Heat half of the oil in a large nonstick or cast iron pan in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Bean and onion mixture can be made through this step up to two days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and heat up before serving.
Stir in cumin, beans, and stock or water and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate any browned bits. Cook until the mixture is simmering and the liquid is reduced so it's just coating the bottom of the pan. Taste and add more salt or cumin, as desired. Set aside.
Use the quinoa as is or make it crunchy by doing the following: place a large nonstick or cast iron pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the quinoa and spread out so that it evenly covers the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown (about 15 minutes). Pull the quinoa off the burner or out of the oven just as it’s golden brown then let it cool in the pan.
To toast more than 2 cups, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet, and cook in a 400°F oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Heat up tortillas, double them so you use two tortillas for each taco, then top with onion-bean mixture, a few spoonfuls of quinoa, and a crumble of cheese, some salsa and avocado and serve.
To heat the tortillas, do one of the following: wrap them in foil and warm them in a 350°F oven; wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and microwave them for 30 seconds; toast each tortilla over a gas flame until charred.
Photography and food styling by Aida Mollenkamp