Quinoa Bowls with Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, and Spinach

Need a good make-ahead meal? These Quinoa Bowls are loaded with creamy black beans, vitamin packed sweet potatoes, wilted spinach, and crunchy pepitas! Make everything on a Sunday and you have work-day lunches ready for the week!

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon water

For the quinoa:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the pepitas:

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sweet potatoes:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into ½ inch cubes.
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the black beans:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lime juice

For the spinach:

  • 8 ounces baby spinach, two large handfuls per person
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the garnish:

  • 2 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


1 Make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine sour cream, Frank’s Red Hot, lime juice, and water. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

What to put in a quinoa bowl - bowl sauce made with Franks Hot Sauce, sour cream and lime

2 Cook the quinoa: Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water for about a minute. In a medium-sized pot, combine water, quinoa, 1 teaspoon oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, fluff with fork, and keep it covered.

What to put in a quinoa bowl - rinse quinoa under running waterSweet Potato Grain Bowl - cooked quinoa in pot

3 Toast the pepitas: Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the pepitas and the salt. Stir frequently and toast for about 5 minutes until the seeds start popping and some parts turn a toasty brown.

Transfer to a large plate. Scoot pepitas to one side. You’ll put the sweet potatoes on the other side.

Black Bean Grain Bowl - toasting pepitas in a skillet

4 Cook the sweet potatoes in sugar and spices: Using the same skillet you used to toast the pepitas, keep the heat at medium and add 2 teaspoons oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the cubed potatoes. Stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute. Stir again. Add the water. Cover and leave untouched for 5 minutes.

Combine sugar, paprika, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Add the spice mixture to the potatoes. Stir to coat.

Cook uncovered for 7 additional minutes. Don’t stir. The sugar should be caramelized, one side of the potatoes should be brown, and the potatoes should be tender but still hold together.

Remove the potatoes from the skillet and place them on the plate alongside the pepitas. Tent with foil to keep them warm.

Sweet Potato Grain Bowl - sweet potatoes cooking in a skillet

5 Make the beans: Return the skillet to the burner over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Once the oil shimmers, after about a minute, add the diced onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and bay leaf. Cook until the onions are softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the beans, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Turn to medium-high, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes.

Divide the beans evenly among four bowls. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and set it over medium heat.

Black Bean Quinoa Bowl - Black beans with bay leaf and onion in skillet

6 Wilt the spinach: Add 3 tablespoons of water to the pan followed by all of the spinach. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss gently until the spinach is wilted—this should take about 2 minutes.

How to Make a Quinoa Bowl - Wilted Spinach in skillet

7 Serve the bowls: To the bowls with the black beans, add a 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup quinoa, and the spinach. Top with toasted pepitas, crumbled cotija, a squeeze of lime, and a drizzle of creamy lime hot sauce.