I like quinoa. Not because of ancient, activated, rah rah whateverness but because it’s likeable. And I had some in my cupboard. This dish is all about the pantry and those leftover veges in the crisper that you have to use in the next day or two or your crisper is gonna start to resemble a slime pit. This means, go with whatever YOU have in your pantry or fridge that’s gonna work. I’ve done it a couple times now, and the second time I had zucchini and peas. Also good. The fact is, quinoa isn’t necessary either. You could equally use standard couscous. Again, whatever you’ve got is what works.
Serves 2-4 depending on it’s purpose.
If you dropped the chicken and just had it as a side…. 4 easily.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 250g chicken, sliced/chopped/whatever
- 2 cups chicken stock
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
- a handful of baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons of mint (roughly)
- 10-20 dried cranberries (dried is all I can get in summer in Sydney so if you can get fresh, bully for you)
- 10-15 pistachios, shelled (or whatever nuts you have – I’ve also used hazelnuts and almonds)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 lemon
- olive oil
- dash of orange blossom water (if you have it)
- 1 teaspoon celery salt (or normal salt)
- 1 thick-base saucepan with a lid
- In the saucepan, dry toast your nuts till they are fragrant. Remove, chop up a little (don’t go crazy) and set aside.
- Add a little olive oil and the onion. Add your salt of choice and some cinnamon – just a pinch at this stage. Saute on low till it gets nicely (but slowly) caramelised. A little dash of pedro jiminez wouldn’t be wasted if you happen to have any in the bar.
- Now add your chicken and saute till it’s cooked through. You could also do this in a second pan while the couscous is cooking if you prefer… I’m just lazy with washing up and like one-pot dishes.
- Remove the chicken and onion and set aside.
- Now throw in the quinoa and stock and pump the heat to bring the stock to the boil
- Throw in the cranberries and, if you have it, the lug of orange blossom water pop the lid on top.
- Turn the heat all the way down and allow this to simmer until all the liquid has been sucked up by the quinoa. Give it a wee stir from time to time. Your quinoa packet will tell you how long this should take.
- Lift the lid and drop in the onion, chicken, the spinach, tomatoes ( I like to give them a squeeze as they go in to release some of that sweet tomato juice), cinnamon, sumac, most of the nuts (leaving a few for garnish), pepper & salt. Give it a good mix and allow to warm through for a minute or two.
- Rip the mint up and chuck it in. Leave a little bit aside for garnishing the bowl.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and give it a quick stir.
- Serve into bowls and garnish to your hearts content with mint and nuts.
- Eat, feel superior to others for eating healthy YET again and enjoy those bursts of flavour in each mouthful.