Viva la Quinoa

…which is a joke that only really works if you know how to pronounce Quinoa. Which sounds like such a super wanky thing to say, but…

Oh. Nope. It’s totally super wanky. But I stand by it. 


Curried Quinoa with pickle-soaked chicken.

serves 4
Ingredients list

1 cup of quinoa

Half a cup of olives, sliced

I small onion, finely chopped.

Small handful of fresh coriander, roughly choppped – stalks and all.

3 or 4 pepperdews, roughly chopped (optional)
1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp smoked paprika 

1 tbsp chipotle chilli powder (optional)

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 large stick of celery (or two small ones), roughly chopped

1 large carrot (again, or two small ones), roughly chopped

1 small cauliflower, broken up into florets

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes

2 tins of whole tomatoes

500ml of vegetable stock

2 cloves of garlic, pressed with salt into a paste

1 (or 2, depending on your taste) red chillies, finely chopped
4 skinned chicken breasts, soaked in pickle juice for 24 hours.

Salt and pepper

Shaved parmesan and chopped chives to finish

What to do

So, this should be done the day before, because it imparts such a rich, zippy flavour to the chicken that its utterly, utterly worth it. Essentially, you need about a cup of pickle juice, either from pickled onions (my preferred option) or gerkins, then poured over the chicken in a shallowish sealable tub and the put in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.

The next day, it’s time to get going. This is an optional step, but I really find that it adds an extra layer of nutty flavour to the quinoa which makes it incredibly rich and satisfying.

In a heated dry pan, toast the quinoa grain until just starting to turn slightly golden brown. It’ll be crackling and hopping a bit in the pan, so make sure to keep shaking or stirring so that it doesn’t catch or burn.

Tip the toasted quinoa into a pot (or just start here), cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, adjust the heat down to a simmer and leave until the quinoa has absorbed all the water and fluffed itself. Loosen and stir it up with a fork, cover with a lid to carry on steaming and set aside.

Take the chopped olives, onion (and peppadews if using) and toss them with some olive oil into a pan on high heat (you can obviously use the same pan you used to toast the quinoa) and fry until the onion is just starting to turn crispy golden on the edges. Remove from the heat, and stir through the chopped coriander. 
Mix together the ground coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and chipotle powder (if using) and set aside.

In a large skillet heat a good shake of olive oil, then toss in the cubed sweet potato. Cook on a medium heat until just starting to go crispy and golden. Then add the celery, onion, carrots, chilli and garlic. Stir and fry this all up until they start to soften and release all their aromas. You want to keep the skillet on a medium-ish heat, just so that it all cooks more gently than aggressively and to keep the sweet potato from over-cooking. Add the cauliflower and the mixed spices and keep stirring and cooking for about 7-10 minutes.

Then add the two tins of tomato, crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon and mixing in well, add a bit of vegetable stock so that you have a rich sauce, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and leave this to bubble away for about 20 minutes to half an hour – essentially until its thickened up nicely.

Stir the warm olives and onions into the quinoa and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle pan (if you have one, it’s not essential) splash in a bit of olive oil and add the chicken once up to temperature. Fry on one side until you’ve got those nice sexy lines marking the chicken, then flip them and do the same for the other side. Turn the temperature down to a medium heat and keep cooking for about 15-20 minutes until they’re cooked through.
Mix enough of the curried tomato sauce with quinoa so that its sticky and reddish, then serve with the chicken, cut into slices. Shave over some parmesan cheese and sprinkle with chopped chives.



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