Hey, Quinoa. Yeah you, Quinoa, poster child of healthy eating. I've got you figured out and I don't hate you any more. I just didn't know how to cook you properly and found your hard-to-pronounce name a bit pretentious and Gwynethy. So I stayed away. Until today when bags of your tiny meek self were discovered in the back of my pantry where the farro and couscous I adore should've been and I had no choice. You were rinsed to wash away your bitter coating, cooked in milk (you probably haven't been introduced– milk is a creamy, white liquid produced by something we non-vegans call a cow) and then hard-seared in oil to give you crust and crunch and sass. Feels good, right?
And tastes good. And feels like something other than mush in your mouth. Combined with chicken, avocado, basil and a curry vinaigrette it makes for a light fulfilling meal that's whole food but not wholeier-than-thou food.
Crispy Quinoa Chicken Salad
serves 2 for meal or 4 as a side
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 avocado, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked
Big handful basil leaves, julienned
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small garlic clove, mashed
scant 1/4 cup lemon juice (from half of juicy lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil
For vinaigrette—whisk all ingredients together until emulsified and set aside.
Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Put bay leaf, salt, water and milk into a heavy saute pan and bring to a boil. Add rinsed couscous, stir and turn heat down to simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed. Test quinoa for doneness. Sometimes there's still some liquid left and I jut drain it off. Dump the quinoa into a shallow bowl and return saute pan to the stove.
Heat pan over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add about half the cooked quinoa and let it pop, dry out and brown, stirring frequently with a thin metal spatula for about 5 minutes. Scrape out all crunchy bits and add to bowl of soft quinoa. Add chicken, avocado, basil and about half the dressing. Toss gently and add more dressing, if desired. Serve on a bed a frisee or other lettuce you like.