Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Quinoa Pasta

chicken Tight on time? No problem. Try one of these simple yet delicious chicken recipes for dinner tonight. People love chicken for its taste, healthfulness and low-fat content, as well as how easy it is to cook with. Chicken is one of the fastest cooking meats but it’s easy to overcook chicken breasts. These recipes for quick chicken use lots of different vegetables, herbs and spices to make delicious. Once you’ve mastered a recipe, try changing it! Add different ingredients and seasonings.

Spices work well when blended together into a rub for chicken. Spices like cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander seed and black pepper make a good blend for a Spanish or Mexican dish. Indian spices include saffron, sesame, turmeric and ground ginger while many Eastern European dishes flavor chicken with spices like paprika, cinnamon, allspice and mace. Use salt sparingly for more healthful eating and rely on true spices for the majority of your flavoring.

Savory herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon and sage go well with chicken. Use one flavor, such as rosemary for a singular accent or create a blend, adding in lighter herbs like chives or parsley for balance. Don’t try to blend two very strong flavors, like rosemary and sage or the palate will be confused. Other good herbs for chicken include lemon balm, fennel, mint, marjoram, coriander and garlic. An alternative to applying these herbs directly to the chicken is to toss a few fresh sprigs into the frying or roasting pan and cooking them alongside the chicken to capture the strong aromas in the meat.

Basic directions for quick grilled and seasoned chicken breasts:

Rub equal amounts of Seasoning Mixture under the skin of each bone-in breast. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill over medium heat and cook about 25 minutes or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced with a tip of a knife, turning over once.

  • Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Seasoning: In small bowl, mix 2 minced sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil and 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped.
  • Garlic-Herb Seasoning: In small bowl, mix 2 garlic cloves,minced, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel.
  • Sage-Butter Seasoning: In small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon softened margarine or butter and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves.

 

chicken1

Chicken Caprese Style

4 servings Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), cored, seeds squeezed out, and diced
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs or refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds total)

Directions

In a medium-size bowl, mix tomatoes, mozzarella, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and chopped basil for the Caprese salad. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve. Place flour on a large plate. Lightly beat eggs in a shallow bowl. Spread the bread crumbs on another plate.

Dip chicken first in the flour, then in the egg and finally into the bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Sprinkle both sides with the remaining salt and pepper. Place on a large plate.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Turn a few times, if necessary, to avoid burning.

To serve, spoon an equal amount of Caprese salad over each piece of chicken. Garnish with additional basil and serve with sautéed greens and garlic bread, if desired. chicken2

Chicken and Polenta

Ingredients

  • Half of a 6 1/2 ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • 4 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 to 1-1/4 pounds)
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup assorted olives, drained
  • ½ cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 small bay leaves 
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the reserved oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in hot oil 3 minutes on each side or until browned; remove skillet from the heat. Add tomatoes, olives, wine and bay leaves.

Transfer skillet to the oven. Bake, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into chicken.

Meanwhile, for polenta, in a large saucepan bring the 3 cups water to boiling. In a medium bowl combine polenta, the 1 cup cold water and the 1 teaspoon salt; gradually stir into the boiling water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; stir occasionally. Remove chicken from the oven; discard bay leaves. Serve chicken with polenta and olives. chicken3

Braised Balsamic Chicken

This dish is good served over your favorite quick cooking rice and green beans make a nice side dish.

Servings: 6 Ingredients

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic 
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Season both sides of chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook seasoned chicken breasts until chicken is browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan to a plate and set aside.

Add remaining oil, onion, mushrooms and brown sugar to the skillet; cook and stir until onion is browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Stir well and return chicken to the pan.

Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). chicken4

Pesto Chicken Packets

4 servings Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas or asparagus
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill. Cut four 18 x 12 inch pieces of heavy-duty foil. Place a chicken breast half on each piece of foil. Divide tomatoes and sugar snap peas over chicken.

In small bowl, combine pesto with mayonnaise. Divide this mixture over the chicken on each piece of foil. Fold foil over chicken and seal edges, using a double fold method.

Cover and grill packets 6″ from medium coals or on a moderate gas grill for 25-30 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.

You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degrees F oven for 23-30 minutes or until done. chicken5

Grilled Chicken Kabobs Over Greek Salad

Just add some warm pita bread. Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 12-inch metal skewers
  • Greek Salad, recipe below

Directions

Mix chicken, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, mint, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let marinate 30 minutes.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil and lemon juice in small bowl to blend. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Pull off large mint leaves from stems.

Alternate chicken, onion, and mint leaves on skewers; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until chicken is just cooked through, turning and basting occasionally with oil-lemon mixture, about 9 minutes. Serve over Greek Salad.

Greek Salad

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound tomatoes, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups diced seeded peeled cucumber (from about 1 large)
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper (from about 1 large)
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)

Directions

Mix the first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Gently mix in cheese. Season with salt and pepper.


Quinoa is a complete protein containing all eight essential amino acids. It’s light and fluffy in texture but has that whole grain ability to fill people up.

The quinoa plant is native to the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia and Chile on the continent of South America. There are many different types of quinoa, including wild quinoa which is still grown today. While wild quinoa has been cultivated as a crop in some areas, it is considered a weed in others. The quinoa we eat today has been cultivated in South America for around 5000 years. Archeological evidence suggests that some of the wilder forms of quinoa were also cultivated in this same region as long ago as 9,000 years.

Cultivating Quinoa

In the 16th century, when the Spanish invaded the Andes region, the Incas were forced into submission and the cultivation and consumption of quinoa was banned due to its association with non- Christian ceremonies. The Incas were forced to grow corn and potatoes instead, but some wild quinoa continued to grow and a small amount was able to be cultivated. So in secret, quinoa survived.

Quinoa was imported into the US in the 1970’s and has seen an increase in popularity in western cultures, particularly in the last 5  years. While quinoa is now commercially grown in some other areas of the world, the majority still comes from the same South American regions that it originated from.

Quinoa is generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Whether purchasing quinoa in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture. When deciding upon the amount to purchase, remember that quinoa expands during the cooking process to several times its original size. If you cannot find it in your local supermarket, look for it at natural foods stores, which usually carry it.

The most common type of quinoa you will find in the store has an off-white color but red and black quinoa are becoming more available.

Store quinoa in an airtight container. It will keep for a longer period of time, approximately three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator.

Quinoa has a coating on it called saponin that is very bitter. Place the quinoa in a fine strainer and run it under cold water for a few minutes before placing it in boiling water.

Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked. Its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it a great alternative to white rice or couscous. Quinoa cooks quickly, so it adds an element of ease to any recipe. This is not typically a grain used by Italian cooks, but it provides much nutritional value and flavor when added to Italian flavored soups.

How To Cook Quinoa

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Method: Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear, drain and transfer to a medium pot. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside, off the heat, for 5 minutes; uncover and fluff with a fork.

Italian Style Quinoa

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped and loosely packed
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package (usually takes about 10-15 minutes).

While quinoa is cooking heat oil over low/medium in separate pan.

Add diced onion, tomato, celery, green pepper and cook until soft, approximately 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add tomato paste and garlic, stir to combine all ingredients, cook two minutes.

Add basil and oregano, stir to combine, and cook for two more minutes.

Once quinoa is done cooking combine the vegetables mixture with the quinoa and mix well.

Garnish with fresh Italian parsley and serve warm.

Lentil Quinoa Salad

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water, plus 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a large microwave-proof bowl with a cover, add the rinsed quinoa and 1 1/4 cups water. Cover and microwave on high for 9 minutes. Let it sit for 2 minutes then stir. Quinoa should be tender enough to eat, but with a little bite.

Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a saucepan, simmer the lentils in 2 cups water until the lentils are tender, but not mushy, about 25-30 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together. Drizzle in the oil to make an emulsion. Add the garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad:

Mix the quinoa, lentils, green onions, tomatoes. olives and chopped mint. Top the salad with the dressing, toss to coat and serve.

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium zucchini 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 links turkey Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut a slice off the side of the zucchini to create a large boat. Scoop out the inside of the squash leaving a shell and bake the shell in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Dice the scooped out zucchini to use in the filling.

While the zucchini shells bake, brown the turkey sausage in olive oil over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.

Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes and diced zucchini. Cook until softened (about 5-10 minutes).

Add the herbs, quinoa and broth and cook for a few more minutes.

Remove from heat and mix in the cheese and salt and pepper.

Removes the shells from the oven and stuff them all as full as possible with the sausage mixture.

Sprinkle with additional Pecorino-Romano cheese and return to oven to bake for at least another 20 minutes or longer depending on the size of the zucchini boats.

Wild Mushroom Quinotto

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish or appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups warm low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth and the liquid used to rehydrate porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, broken into small pieces and rehydrated (see Step 1)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces cleaned fresh mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, porcini, chanterelles, etc.) sliced or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • A grating of fresh nutmeg
  • Several leaves fresh basil, shredded

Directions:

1. To rehydrate porcinis: cover in boiling water and let soften 20-30 minutes; or you can boil them for about 5 minutes to rehydrate faster. Save the liquid to add to the broth for cooking the quinoa, but make sure to strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove any sand or residue.

2. In a heavy nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat, lightly toast the quinoa until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the liquid, stirring as you go. Add the rehydrated porcini mushrooms and stir frequently.

3. When the liquid has been absorbed by the grains, add more of the liquid a little at a time, continuing until the grains have absorbed it all and are tender but al dente, about 15-25 minutes total.

4. In a saute pan melt butter over medium-high heat and add the fresh mushrooms and the onion ,cooking until lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic about halfway through.

5. Add the mushroom mixture, sour cream and nutmeg; to the quinoa, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork, garnish with the basil and serve.

Quinoa Pasta

Try this pasta with your favorite spaghetti sauce and meatballs. It is also great with basil pesto sauce.

Quinoa Spaghetti With Meat Sauce

Makes 4 servings

1 lb. quinoa spaghetti

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb. Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-6oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 26-oz containers Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and the turkey sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add the onion and cook until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, and oregano and stir to combine well. Simmer until thickened.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the quinoa spaghetti according to package directions. Do not overcook. Drain and set aside.

To serve, toss the cooked spaghetti with the meat sauce and place in a large serving bowl. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil. Serve with crusty Italian bread and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the side. 

 



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