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The Main Ingredients Spring Edition: Roasting (Challenger's Meal)

03/11/2014 06:17 EDT | Updated 05/16/2014 05:59 EDT

My husband and I mostly work from home, which gives us a lot of time with our 17 month-old son. That's great, but it does mean that our days can lack structure, especially because we do a lot of our work once Ezra is in bed. We also tend to eat only after he's in bed, and by that point we rush to throw something together. On top of all that, I'm a vegetarian who has to eat gluten free for health reasons, and our son is a typical toddler whose tastes change by the day. It can be hard to come up with one meal that we all want to eat.

When I found out that this week's challenge would require me to roast all of my food, I had to get creative to incorporate my gluten-free grain of choice, quinoa. For my dish I drew inspiration from two different recipes and worked in some of our main ingredients to create something healthy and delicious. I settled on a yogurt-marinated chicken, and took a chance on roasted quinoa (as opposed to the usual stovetop method of cooking).

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken and Roasted Quinoa

Main Ingredients Used:

The Main Ingredients Spring Edition: Challenger's Meal 3

Chicken

• Quinoa

• Baby spinach

• Bell peppers

• Kidney beans

• Cashews

• Eggplant

• Yogurt

Ingredients List:

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken:

• 125 mL (1/2 cup) plain, low fat Greek yogurt

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 30 mL (2 Tbsp) lemon juice

• 15 mL (1 Tbsp) minced fresh ginger

• 5 mL (1 tsp) crushed red pepper flakes

• 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) ground cumin

• 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Roasted Quinoa:

• 540 mL (19 ounces) can no salt added mixed beans (chickpeas, white kidney beans, black-eyed peas, red kidney beans), drained and rinsed

• 250 mL (1 cup) fresh baby spinach, chopped

• 250 mL (1 cup) dry quinoa

• 30 mL (2 Tbsp) lemon juice

• 125 mL (1/2 cup) sundried tomatoes, chopped

• 125 mL (1/2 cup) eggplant, chopped

• 125 mL (1/2 cup) yellow bell pepper, chopped

• 5 mL (1 tsp) fresh cilantro, chopped

• pepper to taste

Preparation: Preparing the chicken dish was easy: I put everything except the chicken breasts in a large zipper-seal bag, then added the chicken and gently squished the bag to mix all the ingredients cover the chicken breasts completely. I then let the chicken marinade in the bag in the refrigerator for a few hours. I then roasted the chicken on a sheet pan in the oven at 230 C (450 degrees F) for just shy of 20 minutes while the quinoa dish cooked.

The roasted quinoa was another simple dish to prepare. I put all of the ingredients in a oven proof dish, stirred to mix evenly, covered the dish with two layers of tinfoil, and popped it in the oven at 230 C (450 degrees F) for about 20 minutes (the recipe stated 20 to 25).

The Verdict: I was surprised how well the quinoa cooked in the oven; it came out nice and fluffy, while absorbing all the water I added to the dish before cooking. It tasted good with the cilantro and lemon juice added, and was filling on its own thanks to the vegetables and beans. My son enjoyed picking out some of the pieces in the dish, but I think he might find it more palatable if repurposed as a soup or with a sauce. My husband and I both enjoyed it, though, and I would consider making it again, particularly as a stand-alone dish for lunches.

My husband ate the chicken, and he reported that the taste was good, but he wanted it to have a sauce of some sort. The marinade added flavour, and a bit of tenderness, but was mostly cooked off or into the chicken by the time it was done. I think an overnight marinade would also have been a better choice, instead of just marinating the chicken for a few hours; it would have made the chicken more moist and flavorful, which might have reduced the dryness of the final product. I would try this method again, but perhaps in a dish with some sauce built in, either for the chicken itself or with a side dish.