Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Back to Basics 13 - Basic Quinoa & Chicken Skewers

The first time I ever made this meal was last summer. It brings back lots of good memories, so I thought I'd make it again to chase away the cold. Plus it's an amazing combination of flavors and so easy to make.

For the Spiced Chicken Skewers
-2 tblsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp lemon zest
-1 tblsp lemon juice
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1/2 tsp ground coriander
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 lb boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4in. cubes, or just the right size for skewers, ya know
-8 10in. skewers
-1 1/2 cup seedless green grapes
-Cooking spray
-2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint or parsley
-1 lemon, cut into wedges

First, in a medium sized glass bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt. Add the chopped up chicken breast, make sure to coat them really well. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for AT LEAST 20 minutes. I left mine for probably about an hour. While the chicken is in the fridge, soak the skewers in water. I take a cookie sheet out, add water to cover it and then put the skewers in there. Works like a charm.
Once they're marinated, thread 4 pieces of chicken and 4 grapes onto the skewers. You can do them all together or alternate. Do whatever you want! This is your kitchen!

Spray a grill pan with cooking spray (canola is better, it has a higher heating point), and preheat the grill pan over medium-high heat. You can also make this on an outdoor grill. But I ain't that skilled.
Grill the skewers until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Place them on a pretty platter and sprinkle with the mint or parsley and place the lemon wedges around it.
You can see Ellie Krieger make them here.

For the Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts:

-2 cups low sodium chicken broth (I used my homemade broth)
-1 cup quinoa, rinsed (learn about why quinoa is SO good for you)
-1/4 cup pine nuts
-1 tblsp olive oil
-1/2 large onion, chopped
-1/3 cup chopped parsley (Tip: keep your parsley store in the fridge inside a glass with water, then cover with a plastic zip lock bag. It stays fresh for WEEKS)
-Salt & pepper to taste

Put the broth and the quinoa in a medium pot, sprinkle with some salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy.
While that's going, heat up a skillet on medium heat and toast your pine nuts. They should be golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM YOUR NUTS. I said it. Keep stirring them. Pine nuts are especially easy to burn so really take care of them. Once they're done, take them out of the skillet and set aside.

Heat oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until they've softened and have begun to brown up, should take about 6 minutes.

When the quinoa is done, fluff it up with a fork and transfer to a pretty bowl. Stir in the pine nuts, onions and parsley. Make sure the seasoning is right, if not then adjust.
I also added a salad of fresh tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. DELISH!!!!

Calories in skewers: 4 servings, 2 skewers per person. 220 calories
Calories in quinoa pilaf: 6 servings, about 3/4 cup each. 180 calories.

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