Well, my couscous obsession is slowly morphing into a quinoa one. Plain quinoa tastes like pulverized cardboard, but dressed up with slow roasted vegetables, tender chicken and fresh herbs....wait, what were we talking about?
My friend A and I created this dish through experimentation, for a picnic with a group of 14 friends, with leftovers for delivery to my parents and siblings. It's healthy and light, without sacrificing flavour - perfect for summer dinners. I've adjusted the quantities, and the recipe below would serve four.
To prepare the chicken:
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup walnut oil, 2T cherry balsamic vinegar, 1T maple syrup, 1T Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over four chicken breasts and marinade in the fridge overnight. I baked the chicken at 375°F for 15 minutes, turning once. It would also be delicious grilled.
To prepare vegetables:
Wash and chop 1/2 bunch of asparagus, 2 small zucchini, 4 shallots and 2 red peppers into small pieces. Mince 1 clove of garlic. Toss vegetables and garlic with a little bit of olive oil, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for 45-60 minutes.
To prepare quinoa:
Cook 2 cups of dry quinoa according to package directions.
To prepare vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup finely chopped olives, 2T apple cider vinegar, 1T honey, 1T orange juice, 1T chopped preserved lemon, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 tsp sambal oelek, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom and 1/4 tsp salt.
Note: This vinaigrette was a mashup of leftover homemade olive tapenade and the honey-chile dressing from this recipe. Most of the ingredients could be substituted or omitted to suit different tastes.
Gently toss the quinoa with the roast vegetables and vinaigrette. Top with slices of chicken, crumbled feta and freshly cracked pepper. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme for contrast.