Have you tried the increasingly popular Quinoa (pronounced “keen wa”)? Frequently thought of as a grain, it is technically the fruit of a broadleaf plant, coming from the same family as spinach and beets. Quinoa originated in Peru and Bolivia in South America, but is now increasingly found on most grocery store shelves. This unique grain cooks up quickly (in about 15 minutes) and keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator. It has a light, nutty flavor and is very versatile. You can use quinoa in creating almost any dish, from breakfast cereal, to appetizers, salads, entrées or desserts. It can even be used as a thickening agent in lieu of white flour.
The best part of quinoa is it is considered one of “the world’s healthiest foods” according to Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, authors of a recently released cookbook, Quinoa 365. The protein in quinoa is substantial and full of vitamins and minerals. It is free of trans fats and cholesterol, considered gluten-free and contains high levels of antioxidants.
I’ve adapted a recipe from their book, combining seasoned chicken breasts wrapped around a savory filling of quinoa, spinach and goat cheese to make a delicious made-for-company healthy dinner entrée.
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Quinoa, Spinach & Goat Cheese
1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 c. quinoa
1/2 c. fresh spinach, cut in a chiffonade
3/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. fresh herbs (basil, mint, or oregano), chopped
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring the broth and the quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to simmer, cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, allow pan to set on burner with lid on for an additional 7 minutes. Remove lid and fluff quinoa with fork.
In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, spinach, onions, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix in the egg and blend well. Add the cooked quinoa and stir together.
Pound each chicken breast between sheets of waxed paper until flat. Lay chicken breast out and spoon a mixture of the quinoa in the center of each breast. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Place the rolled chicken pieces in a casserole dish.
In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, any remaining herbs and spinach. Drizzle this mixture over the chicken breasts.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove when done, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
To learn more about quinoa and its benefits, check out Quinoa 36 which I found on sale at Costco, or it can be ordered online via Amazon.