We’re Keen on Quinoa

We’re Quin on Quinoa?

Either way, we really enjoyed this fresh, springy, gluten-free meal.

The dinner party guests: 1 1/2 cups quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”), olive oil, half a lime, a handful of cilantro, half a red onion, two peppers: one yellow, one red, one cup of corn, one boneless, skinless chicken breast, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cracked black pepper

Make the salad dressing. Squeeze half a lime (or an entire lime, if you’d prefer) into a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.

Rub olive oil and the squeezed-out lime pieces (there’s still some pulp and juice in there) on each side of the chicken. Sprinkle with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and garlic salt.

Bring a pot with 2 3/4 cups of water to a boil. Rinse the quinoa well. I didn’t know to do this the first time I made quinoa. Add the rinsed quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the boiling water. Cover, lower heat, and allow to simmer until the water is absorbed. This will take about 12-15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, start and clean the grill, then prep your vegetables. We got a break in the weather, so I moved most of the work outside. Amazing how much more appetizing food looks in natural light.

My onion was a bit long in the tooth. I just pulled out the middles and they were good to go.

Set the grill temperature to medium-high and cover. Cut this size, it took about 15-20 minutes for the pepper skins to get thoroughly charred. Check your vegetables; when the skins are crispy and black, remove them from the grill.

Cover the vegetables with plastic wrap and let them steam. This will make peeling the skins a breeze.

Put the chicken breast on the grill and close the cover. Sear the meat for about 3 minutes per side, then turn the grill heat to low and and continue cooking, cover closed. I admit that we poke open our chicken for doneness, which took another ten or so minutes on our grill. We call this the T-LAR method, courtesy of my stepdad.





Don’t do as we do. Chicken is cooked when it registers 165 degree F on a meat thermometer, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

By now, your veggies have nice, clean pores. Keeping a firm grip on a slice of pepper, slide your knife blade along the skin. It should scrape right off. If some of the charred skin remains, that’s okay. It’s smoky, which is a nice balance to the sweetness of the grilled peppers.

Commence chopping.

The clouds are back. When the chicken’s done, remove it from the heat and cover it in foil for a few minutes to lock in the juices. Then, slice and dice.

Put the cooked quinoa in a large serving bowl. Add the chopped vegetables and chicken, as well as the corn, and gently toss.

Line up your little bunch of cilantro and roll it into a bundle. Give it a fine dice.

Remember that lime-olive oil dressing we made way back when, so we could rub the squeezed-out lime on the chicken before adding the dry seasonings? Stir it up and pour it over the salad. Mix well. Sprinkle with cilantro.

It’s like a seventy degree day in your mouth, even when the temperature only reads sixty.

I was dying to know what Nacho Man thought. He took a bite, chewed thoughtfully, and said,

“Well, it’s not couscous.”

Take that, couscous.

But you could just as easily do this with couscous, wild rice, or pasta.

Quinoa with Grilled Chicken, Roasted Peppers, Corn, and Lime-Olive Oil Dressing

serves 4-6



1 1/2 cups quinoa

2 3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt


half of one large red onion

one yellow pepper

one red pepper

one cup canned, frozen, or fresh corn


one boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to uniform thickness

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

cracked black pepper to taste

Salad dressing:

half of a lime (more if preferred)

2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Bring 2 3/4 cups water to a boil. Rinse quinoa. Add rinsed quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling water. Cover and reduce heat. Cook approximately 12-15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir.

2. Make salad dressing by mixing lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and cracked black pepper in a small bowl. Rub olive oil and lime pulp on both sides of chicken, followed by dry rub.

4. Clean peppers and cut into long strips about one inch wide. Cut onion into quarters. Set onto grill that has been cleaned and prepped, and cook, covered, on medium-high heat about 15-20 minutes, or until pepper skins are completely charred. Remove from heat and cover.

5. Sear chicken breast on high heat approximately 3 minutes per side. Set grill heat to low, cover, and let chicken finish grilling. Check for doneness, remove from heat, and cover in foil for several minutes before dicing.

6. As the chicken finishes grilling, scrape the skins off the peppers, then dice the peppers and onion.

6. Combine quinoa, chopped vegetables, corn, and diced chicken in a large bowl. Mix. Drizzle with dressing, and mix again.

7. Garnish with cilantro.

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