Quinoa and Fried Egg Burrito with Ancho Chili Sauce

Young quinoa stalks with seeds spilling out.

Seduced by a tiny potted quinoa plant at my local nursery, its two slim stalks bursting with  edible seeds, I was smitten enough to purchase it, ignoring the fact that quinoa is native to the high Peruvian Andes Mountains, 10,000 feet above sea level.   I brought it home and planted it in my not-very-high above sea level garden, just to see what would happen. Not much did. It withered and drooped and clearly wasn’t happy here. Yet both limp stalks were releasing seeds of sustenance. I asked Rick to capture their nascent wholesomeness in a photo. Alas, the plant didn’t survive. But, in a leap of imagination, the recipe that follows was born. I think it tells how beauty can inform art, this time in a quinoa and fried egg burrito.

Ancho chilies with flowering coriander sprig. Anchos are the dried version of pasilla, sometimes mistakenly called poblano, chili peppers. They are mild yet spunky, sometimes with a tinge of heat, but not always. To make an appealing, deep brown/red sauce paste of them to slather on a tortilla, stir into chicken soup, or crown vanilla ice cream (!): Tear open and shake out the seeds of 6 ancho chili peppers. Pull off the stems and place the chilies in a small saucepan. Add 1 to 2 cloves smashed garlic and filtered water to cover. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer for 20 minutes, until soft. With a slotted spoon transfer the chilies and garlic to a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until you have a smooth, spreadable paste. If too thick, add more of the cooking liquid.

Makes 4 burritos

1/2  cup organic quinoa

1 cup filtered water

Ancho Chili Sauce (see the sidebar)

Four large ranch eggs

3 tablespoons butter, for frying the eggs

1/2 cup cilantro leaves tossed with 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup finely chopped light green scallions (the middle part)

4 large flour tortillas

1. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and decrease the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed but the quinoa is still moist. Remove from the heat and let rest, still covered, until dried out and fluffy, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Make the ancho chili sauce (see the sidebar)

3. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Crack in the eggs and cook gently until the whites are set and the yolks still runny, 5 to 7  minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

4. To serve, heat the tortillas in a toaster or standard oven. Paint each tortilla with ancho chili sauce, then spread about 1/2 cup of quinoa along the center. Top with a fried egg. Sprinkle the cilantro/vinegar over the egg, then strew on some scallions. Fold up the bottom of the tortilla an inch and a half or so, fold over the sides to overlap in the middle, and enjoy.

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