I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions – but on that note, how about a life resolution?
I resolve to share with you more of the things that I eat, like, all the time. Delicious things. Healthy things. Things you should eat.
Things like quinoa.
Have we not discussed quinoa? I don’t believe we have. Let’s see, where do I begin? For those of you who are quinoa-virgins, quinoa is a grain that contains protein. Not only does it contain protein, it’s actually a complete protein, meaning it includes all nine essential amino acids. Most importantly, it’s super-easy to cook, and super-tasty. It’s a great alternative to whole-wheat pasta for fast weeknight meals, because it’s got the protein already included. And did I mention it tastes good? It has a nutty flavor and a unique, almost crunchy texture.
It’s a perfect vehicle for a lot of different flavors and meals. You can serve it as a side, or eat it on its own. One of my favorite dishes I’ve made with quinoa was a smoky chipotle shrimp dish with avocado. I’m totally gonna have to do that one again so I can share it with you.
Now this dish is a pantry dish, with the exception of the fresh herbs. But hey, if you’re like me and you’ve got your own herb garden going on at home, then it’s all pantry, baby! And bacon – you have to keep bacon on hand. If you eat pork and you don’t keep bacon on hand…well, I just wouldn’t know what to say to you. I’m not sure we would have a whole lot in common.
We ate this with roasted chicken breasts using a simple method (à la Ina Garten) I use all the time. Skin-on, bone-in chicken. Oven at 375. Rub them in olive oil, season well, and pop them right in for 35 to 40 minutes. Easy-peasy. But this time, I opted to take a pat of butter and mix it with a big clove of pressed garlic, chopped fresh basil, and lots of salt and peps – and then I smushed this mixture under the skin of the chicken. It added *a lot* of flavor, and took a whole whopping 3 minutes to prepare.
I only made two chicken breasts, which we ate over the course of two meals. Does that sounds strange to you? Well, we already talked about the protein we’re getting from the quinoa, but this brings me the perfect opportunity to tell you about something else…
The Food Matters Cookbook. Have you heard of it? I’m (SUPER) excited to announce the launch of a new project I’m working on called The Food Matters Project. It’s all about eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods — and the positive impact this has on our health and the environment. We’re looking for food bloggers to join this group, but you can still cook along with us if you don’t have a blog. Check it out! And let me know what you think.
- ½ cup nuts (I used sliced almonds; walnuts would also be nice)
- 4 thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 small shallots, finely chopped
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ cups quinoa, rinsed
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ cup chopped or snipped fresh herbs (I used chives, basil, and parsley)
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a pie plate and toast in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown; let cool. If you’re using whole nuts, chop ‘em up.
- In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy, about 7 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Add the shallots to the pan with the bacon grease, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes, adding the garlic for the last 30 seconds or so. Add the quinoa for a couple of minutes before adding the stock, then add the stock and bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook over low heat until the stock has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and stir in the herbs, toasted nuts, and bacon. Add a squeeze of lemon, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.