I don’t think that I had ever been to a real beach house up until I visited the place my friend Chrissann was renting last August. This house was one of those that you usually only see on TV. A mere 11 steps up from the beach, it faced West, providing one of the best sunset views on Virgin Gorda. So much so, that seeing the illusive “green flash” was a daily treat for us.
As time went on, Chrissann and I got closer and became really good friends. With that, I became a regular visitor for occasional cooking sessions and morning coffee gatherings.
Though contrary to what one may think about living in a beach house, it wasn’t quite the perfect dream situation I assumed it would be. After a couple visits, I started witnessing some of the challenges that she was having living there. These were little things that I would have never known had I not spend time with someone living in such a location.
For one, being close to the beach means being close to the sand. With sand comes lots of sand flies. Most of the time, you can’t see them, but they bite you in droves. It hurts and itches for hours later. Not to mention, it is really annoying when you’re trying to relax, eat, and take photographs.
In time, we came to the conclusion that we would be more comfortable and would rather spend our time together indoors than out. Between the bugs and the sticky/salty/sandy feeling that comes with being on the beach, it’s better suited for a couple hours of sunbathing or swimming, more so than everyday living.
Unfortunately, Chrissann and her boyfriend recently had to move out of the beach house. I felt bad for her at the time, because I thought it would be hard to find another house as beautiful as the beach house on the island. But little did I know, there was no reason to worry, because the new house she moved into is even more beautiful than the first one.
They found a new house located on the top of a hill, nestled in the beautiful Caribbean flora. This house eliminated all the challenges that she used to have while living on the beach. There is a constant cool breeze and the distance from the sand eliminated the sand fly issue. The fact that it is located on a higher ground makes the air feel fresh and less sticky/salty.
It is such a pleasant change for us to be able to enjoy our time together outside.
The other day, since we did not want to spend too much time indoors, we made these quick Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos for lunch and spent the rest of the day out on the terrace overlooking beautiful Nail Bay.
There are 3 quick steps to making this recipe. First, I started with making the fresh tomato topping, pico de gallo, by simply mixing tomatoes, red onions, scallions, cilantro, garlic, and fresh lime juice.
Then for a light and healthy dressing, I chose to use non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. To make it, I quickly whisked together some yogurt, garlic, and juice of a lemon. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and added chopped green scallions to give it some color.
While I was working on the pico de gallo and yogurt sauce, Chrissann made the quinoa and black bean mixture. To make it, she cooked 2 cans of black beans for a couple of minutes, and then stirred in the quinoa. After allowing it to cook for 5 minutes, she gently mashed it using a potato masher.
When it was time to serve, I placed all the components of the tacos out on the table. To assemble, I stacked 2 corn tortillas on top of each other, spooned a generous amount of the quinoa mixture, and then topped it off with pico de gallo and yogurt dressing. To make it even more delicious, I added some cubed avocados and some shredded cheddar cheese.
As is usually the case, it took us almost 30 minutes to make it but less than 10 minutes to eat it. Over our meal, we enjoyed each other’s company, finally able to focus on the beauty around us and less on swatting away sand flies.
Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Vegetarian Meals
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Mexican
For Pico de Gallo
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Salt & pepper
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 scallions – green parts only, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the tacos
- 2 (14 oz.) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 ripe avocado, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 10-12 corn tortillas
- wedges of fresh lime
- To make the Pico de Gallo: place tomatoes, red onion, garlic, scallions, lime juice, and cilantro in a medium size bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix until evenly combined. Set aside.
- To make the dressing: whisk yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in the scallions and set aside.
- Place the beans in a medium-size saucepan. Cook stirring constantly until warm, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the quinoa. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a potato masher, mash some of the black beans. Place it in a large bowl and set aside.
- To assemble: spoon 2 tablespoons of the black bean and quinoa mixture into the center of 2 corn tortillas stacked on top of each other. Top it with 1-2 tablespoons of pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, and cubes of avocado. Drizzle it with a tablespoon of the yogurt sauce.
- Repeat the same process with the rest of the corn tortillas.
- Serve it with wedges of fresh limes.