Monday, August 17, 2015

Roast vegetable quinoa with chicken and feta

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. 

To assemble:
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.