Quinoa has been around for ages but with the fitness fads that are taking over the social scene here, the name has popped up more often than usual. In Cairo, more stores carry this grain -- which, if we delve into a little history, was cultivated over 5000 years ago and known amongst the Incas as the ‘mother of all grains’. More and more research is turning up, singing its praises. In a nutshell, quinoa is naturally gluten-free and packed with nutrients, and to quote Medicine News Today: “it is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein, containing all nice essential amino acids”. Quinoa comes in red, white, and black colors. For this recipe, I used the red variety, but honestly words with any version. I’ll leave that up to you! Quinoa also has a basic formula when it comes to cooking – always remember: one part quinoa, to 2 parts liquid.
This recipe also calls for marinating your chicken overnight. The quinoa is cooked in the remnants of the chicken in the same pan so technically, this is also a one-pot meal. Yes, that means less dishes, but the better news is this – this whole meal comes together in about 25-30 minutes. It’s super easy, nutritional, tasty, AND can feed about 3 people comfortably.
400-500gm chicken filets (I used breasts, sliced lengthwise to make them thinner)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of olive oil for stir-frying
For the Quinoa:
1 cup red quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth (you can substitute with water if you don’t have any)
½ cup dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon sweet chili
Salt to taste
Shredded basil leaves (optional)
The night before, place chicken, Dijon mustard, sweet chili, garlic, salt, and pepper into a bowl and incorporate well until all the chicken is covered. Cover and leave to marinade overnight (up to 24 hours) in the fridge.
Take chicken out of the fridge 15 minutes before cooking. In a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan, heat some olive oil, and drop your chicken and any remaining marinade into the ban. Sear on high heat on each side until color turns slightly gold, then add ½ cup of water, lower heat to medium, and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and water evaporates. Brown gently on each side, and remove from pan onto a plate, and set aside.
In the same pan, add 1 cup of quinoa, plus water, broth, dried onion flakes, and sweet chili. Taste for salt and add accordingly.
Leave on high heat to until quinoa starts to boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down low, cover, and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know its ready when the quinoa absorbs all the water and the dried onion will fluff up again. At this point, fluff it up with a fork.
Turn off the heat, and return chicken to the pan, arranging over the quinoa.
Sprinkle with shredded fresh basil, and serve. Enjoy!