Whew! I mistakingly thought that after the holidays life was supposed to slow down. January was supposed to be full of movies and hot chocolate and laying around on the couch, right? In my continuous desire to try something new, I just may have gotten myself in over my head this time. You know, one of those ventures that ends up taking way more time than you thought it would. It’s one of those things that seemed like a great idea for a couple hours a week, but has now morphed into the double-digit hour requirement per week and you’re questioning not only your sanity, but your mental capacity as well! I’ll manage, but it’s going to be a very busy few months! I’m going to have to leave it at that for now, but I’m working on finding some balance and getting to cook and post more often given the current schedule.
New Year’s resolutions anyone? Have they all disappeared yet? I hope not, but some of mine have. The ones that mimic precicely what everyone else resolved to do this year, yes, I’m taking about going to the gym more often. Not because I necessarily think I need to lose a few pounds, but more because I pay a membership fee there every month (!) and being more healthy is always a goal. However, I’m afraid that I have only made it once this new year! On an optimistic note, the generic “eat better” resolution has stayed around and this recipe is in full support of it.
When you read the recipe below you may think: two forms of broccoli!? That sounds like a lot, and it is, but this dish is flavored so well you will forget how healthy it is. Quinoa is my new favorite grain. Packed with protein and fiber it really is a much better filler than the brown rice we are used to, and it cooks up with a similar method in about the same amount of time. Check this out for the full scoop on this nutritious grain.
I used red quinoa here because that’s what I had. Feel free to use any variety the most common being brown. I hope you can add this to your repetoire and use it to support your healthy 2011 goals!
Warm Chicken, Broccoli, and Pesto Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: 101 cookbooks
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side
3 cups cooked quinoa (Here is the method I use for cooking)
5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
1 large chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon black pepper*
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder*
1/2 teaspoon onion powder*
1 large garlic clove or 2 small
2/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 big pinches salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice – about 1/2 small lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
fire oil (recipe follows)
Cook the quinoa and set aside.
Now lightly cook the broccoli by pouring 3-4 inches of water in the bottom of a large pot and bring it to a simmer. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the broccoli. Cover and cook for a 2 minutes, just long enough to take the raw edge off and turn the broccoli bright green. Transfer the broccoli to a strainer and run under cold water until it stops cooking. Set aside.
Flatten the chicken by cutting a few slits on the bottom side of the breast, covering it in plastic wrap, and pressing it out using a heavy bottomed pan (I use my cast iron skillet). Keep gently smacking it until it’s a uniform thickness of about 3/4 inch. Season both sides with the spice mixture (*or substitute in your own cajun-ish seasoning mix).
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bottom of the same heavy bottomed pan you used to press the chicken. When oil gets hot enough to sizzle when water is dripped in it, place the chicken in the pan. Sear on both sides about 4 minutes each or until the juices run clear.
Remove from pan and tent with foil while making the pesto and oil.
Immediately add about 1/2 cup more olive oil to the hot chicken pan. Stir with a wooden spoon to remove any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. When oil is heated back up add in 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Immediately remove from heat, stir, and pour into a bowl or glass bottle to cool slightly.
To make the broccoli pesto puree two cups of the cooked broccoli, the garlic, the almonds, parmesan, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and cream and whirl until smooth.
Chop the chicken up into bite sized chunks and toss with the broccoli and quinoa over medium low heat. When all is warm, drizzle with the fire oil. Pour mixture out into your serving bowl and toss with the avocado chunks and a generous amount of the pesto. Pass the remaining pesto at the table.