While Martin and Chris were nursing me and my big toe back to health a few weeks ago, we got to talking about food. Specifically, quinoa.
Martin said one of his favourite cookbooks, Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood, is all quinoa, all the time. I was intrigued, because I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. This is how last Sunday’s quinoa feast came to be.
Martin and Chris, pictured below, offered to have me and a small group over for a quinoa-themed lunch:
After countless Stampede meals involving beef on a bun, a healthy lunch was just what I needed. And it was amazing! We feasted on potato salad and green salad with berries and toasted chia seeds (the only non-quinoa dishes), quinoa and cucumber salad, as well as a hearty chicken and broccoli casserole.
The “healthy” portion of the meal went out the window at dessert time. We had not one or two, but three homemade treats.
There were too many outstanding dishes to include in just one post, so here’s what we’re going to do, my quinoa-loving friends. Today, I’ll share two recipes: the Fresh Cucumber and Toasted Almond Salad with Dill and the Chicken Broccoli Casserole, both of which come from Quinoa 365.
On Thursday, we’ll get to the standout dessert — Moist Chocolate Cake, which was quite possibly the most amazing homemade chocolate cake I’ve tasted. Not only that, but it’s made from quinoa (yes, the recipe is from Quinoa 365) and has no flour whatsoever. That means the cake is practically a health food, right? That’s what I told myself in order to justify adding more chocolate icing to my piece, anyway.
Let’s get to these fantastic dishes. The salad is wonderful, but, with gooey cheese, tender chicken and a hint of curry — something I often crave — the casserole is the dish that pulled me back for seconds.
First, the salad.
Fresh Cucumber and Toasted Almond Salad with Dill
- 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar or white rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups chopped English cucumber
- 1/2 cup sliced green onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake on the centre oven rack for 5 to 7 minutes, until the almonds are fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Place the quinoa in a large saucepan over medium heat. Toast the quinoa for 3 to 5 minutes, until it is fragrant but not browned, shaking the saucepan from side to side occasionally to turn the quinoa and toast it evenly. (Note: if you use a saucepan with a larger bottom, it will toast faster.)
Add the stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional 4 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to cool completely.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Add to the cooled quinoa and mix thoroughly. Add the cucumber, green onion and dill, tossing well. Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
Best if enjoyed immediately but can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 cups light sour cream
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp prepared mustard
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp minced fresh basil (or a pinch of dried basil)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch (3.5L) casserole dish or spray with cooking oil.
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 6 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cool. Evenly spread the cooked quinoa over the bottom of the casserole. Set aside.
Cook the broccoli in a steamer or medium saucepan until just tender or al dente. Arrange the broccoli over the quinoa in the casserole dish.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken breasts until cooked and the juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side. Cool the chicken slightly, then slice into 2-inch-wide strips and place evenly over the broccoli.
Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, curry powder and basil in a small bowl and mix well. Spread evenly over the chicken and top with shredded cheese. Bake on the centre oven rack for about 25 minutes, until the casserole is hot and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Enjoy Part 1 of the quinoa feast and get ready for the chocolate cake. It’s ridiculously good.