Quinoa goes with Chicken or Salmon

Salmon, quinoa, corn, carrot, edamame, cucumber-lime raita

Salmon, quinoa, corn, carrot, edamame, cucumber-lime raita

Quinoa, lemon-thyme chicken, hummus, tomato salsa and red cabbage
Leftover lunch: quinoa, lemon-thyme chicken, hummus, tomato salsa and red cabbage

Light and healthy week is working, I’ve lost two pounds and I feel great! I worked out at the gym five days this week and tomorrow will take one hour exercise boot camp class. So, today when I returned from the gym I felt ravenously hungry and didn’t have the patience to wait until I finished this recipe post. Racing to the refrigerator, I flung open the door to whip up a five minute meal.

I had a meal in mind today before I left to work out. It’s the most popular dish on my personal chef menu because clients love the mix of flavors and the high nutritional content. It’s a super-food meal and the star is quinoa. Quinoa is a Peruvian grain which is high in amino acids and a complete protein. The dish features salmon, quinoa, corn, edamame, carrot, herbs and a cucumber-lime raita with few dashes of togarashi, a Japenese chili spice mix. I made it a few years ago in my Next Food Network Star video that nobody watched. Nonetheless, it’s an outstanding dish and you can serve it happily to vegetarians.

But, let me get back to my crisis at the refrigerator door. I don’t like to waste food so although I’d overcooked (you can see the flecks of brown in the photo) some quinoa before I left for the gym, I put it aside for future use. In the fridge I had leftover lemon-thyme chicken, tomato salsa and some sautéed cabbage with garlic and balsamic vinegar. As I started putting together my plate, I also thought about hummus because I put a littleof it on almost everything and voila! A new delicious dish was born because I never thought about putting hummus and salsa together. They’re really complementary and are excellent on chicken.

Seared Salmon with Quinoa, Corn, Edamame and Carrot with Cucumber-Lime Raita
4 five ounce pieces of skinned salmon
Nonstick spray
Sea salt and pepper to taste

2.5 cups cooked quinoa (prepared according to package directions, for liquid use half water and half low-salt chicken or vegetable stock and season with salt to taste)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 whole shallots diced
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 cup medium diced carrots (see Chef’s Quick Tip)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (See Chef’s Quick Tip)
2 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Quinoa: heat a large size sauté pan with sides over medium heat and add oil. Add shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes then add crushed garlic and carrots. Sauté carrots until tender but firm then add corn and edamame. Season the vegetables with sea salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add warm quinoa, thyme, parsley, lemon zest and mix thoroughly and set aside.

Salmon: season both sides of fish with sea salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Add fish and cook about 2-4 minutes per side depending upon the thickness of your fish. Prepare sauce while salmon is cooking. Place salmon on top of quinoa and garnish with Cucumber-Lime Raita.

Makes 4 main course servings

Cucumber Lime Raita
4 ounces non-fat Greek style yogurt
Zest of one lime
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup seeded and diced cucumber
Chopped cilantro to taste
A few shakes of Japenese togarashi or cayenne pepper
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Open the yogurt and using a microplane, zest the limon over the yogurt. Put the diced onion in a small bowl and add enough lemon juice to coat the onions along with a pinch of salt. Let the onions sit about five munutes then add the yogurt-lime mixture. Add cucumber, cilantro, a few dashes of togarashi and mix thoroughly. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Chef’s Quick Tip: for quick diced carrots, use Trader Joe’s brand of shredded carrots and dice them. A half a cup will do for this recipe. To quickly defrost frozen edamame, put them in a strainer in the sink and run hot water over them for a minute or two. Drain and add to the pan.

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