Italian Quinoa

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I have to admit that sometimes I’m a bit jealous of other languages. They just sound more refined than the English language.

Or maybe more romantic.

Or both.

For instance, if you speak Italian you can say, “Buon Appetito!” before serving a delicious meal. In English you would just have to say, “Have a good meal!”…. Hm, the translation doesn’t seem to have the same ‘ring’ to it… Or is that just me?

Well, I decided to put an Italian twist on Quinoa and, for the occasion, I’m going to use the Italian language’s blessing for the meal to come….

BUON APPETITO!!!

(Oh, and break out the good parmesan for this one. You’ll be glad you did.)

This recipe starts with… ASPARAGUS! One of my favorite veggies…

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Super easy…

Bend an asparagus spear in half, let it break where it wants to naturally. Use this spear as a guide and cut the rest of your asparagus spears to roughly the same length. If you have really thick asparagus you might want to peel them a bit but it’s not necessary.

And, you DO NOT have to waste those asparagus ends (if you were worried about that). Toss them in a resealable bag and pop them in the freezer. Add unused asparagus ends to your bag until you have a good amount of them… 2-3 pounds worth. Then you can use them to make asparagus soup! Economical, right? And yummy.

I just heated up my grill pan, drizzled a little olive oil on the asparagus, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Then I grilled them for just a few minutes, turning them once or twice, and chopped them into 1-inch pieces.

This will all be even EASIER if you get yourself a helper like I did…

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Next, I toasted some sliced almonds… you can use slivered or chopped whole almonds if that’s what you have… or pine nuts would be delicious too, but they are not as budget-friendly!

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Along with the toasted, sliced almonds and the grilled asparagus pieces, I also measured out some dried cranberries, freshly shaved parmesan, and I roughly chopped some flat-leaf parsley so it was ready-to-go!

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Then I got started on my QUINOA!

Go ahead, try to shout it. “KEEN-WAH!!!” It’s almost like something you would say while doing a karate move. Or that’s how we shout it around our kitchen. With the hand gestures, bent knees, and sometimes even a kick if we’re in the mood.

Try it. It will make you smile.

Or, at the very least, it will entertain your kids. Unless they’re teenagers and everything you do annoys them. My girls are 2 and 1 years old and they think everything I do is interesting or funny.

I should take more advantage of that… or at least enjoy it more than I do!

Here is my (thus far) foolproof method for cooking keen-wah!!!

Ahem. I mean, Quinoa.

First I put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it for 30-60 seconds under cool water. Next, I heated some oil in a large pot, tossed in the quinoa, and toasted it for a couple of minutes. You can skip this step but toasting this makes it a pilaf. Next, I add in chicken broth or stock to the quinoa and bring the whole thing to a boil. I turn down the heat, cover it, and let it simmer 15 minutes. Finally, I take the pot off the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 more minutes before fluffing it with a fork.

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While the quinoa was cooking, I made some parmesan-coated chicken. Think of it like chicken parmesan without the marinara.

Grated parmesan… again, it’s the right time to use the good stuff.

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I halved a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts horizontally. Then I pounded them until they were about 1/4-inch thick and patted them dry.

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Next you’ll need three shallow bowls or dishes.

Bowl 1: All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Bowl 2: Eggs whisked together with some milk.

Bowl 3: Bread crumbs seasoned with herbs de provence, salt and pepper and tossed together with 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.

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I dredged each piece of chicken in the flour, dipped them in the egg and shook off the excess, and then coated them in the bread crumbs on both sides.

To cook the chicken I heated up some oil and butter in a large, non-stick pan…

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The chicken cooks QUICKLY… just a few minutes on each side and they’re done!

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When your quinoa is cooked and fluffed, toss it together with the asparagus, almonds, cranberries, goat cheese, and grated parmesan.

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I also made a quick vinaigrette to toss some greens in…

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Just white wine vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper…. then e.v.o.o. added as you whisk!

Again, I recommend getting a helper for this…

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I actually made this ahead of time and stored it in a mason jar in the fridge. When I was ready for it I just took the jar out of the fridge, gave it a good shake, and…

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I tossed it with some mixed greens and served them on top of the chicken and quinoa!!

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Click HERE for the recipe!

Buon Appetito!

Love, Jenna

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