Pesto Quinoa

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Pesto brings lots of flavor to any dish and quinoa is no exception. Making pesto at home is easy and allows control over how much of what goes into it. I used fresh basil, orange mint, green onion, garlic and walnuts that I had on hand with a small amount of oil.  Paired with sautéed shrimp, baked chicken and roasted vegetables done two ways, it was easy to have different meals daily. Having the right cooking strategy for your week is important to being successful in eating more home cooked meals. For this week, I did the baked chicken, roasted vegetables and quinoa on the same day. The next day, I defrosted a couple of single serving bags of shrimp while I ate breakfast and cooked them afterward (5 mins). I also keep things on-hand like individual packs of tuna (ranch, herb and garlic flavored) and salad greens or canned chicken for and easy chicken salad if I need a little more variety in the week. The important thing is to stock up on healthful, easy options regularly (monthly, weekly) to supplement what you will be cooking.

Check out the recipe below. Serves 5-6.

Pesto Ingredients:

1/2 cup basil

1/4 cup mint

1/4 cup green onion tops

1 clove of garlic 

1 tbsp. chopped walnuts

1 tsp. avocado or olive oil

Roasted Veggie Ingredients:

2 cups chopped zucchini with skin

2 cups chopped carrots 

2 cups chopped broccoli 

2 cups chopped bell pepper

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 

1 tbsp. lemon olive oil (or regular and 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice)

1 tbsp. garlic olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 

Other ingredients:

1 cup quinoa dry

2 cups of water

6-8 chicken legs

  • 5-10 shrimp (optional)

1/2 tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. onion powder

1/2 tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a second baking sheet with foil and add chicken with an even coating of the seasoning and oil and mix with a gloved hand. Place in oven for 45 minutes.
  3. Rinse all vegetables. Cut ends off zucchini then cut in half. Cut each half  in half longwise. Cut into strips and then cube. Repeat with carrots.  Cut bell pepper in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut into strips and then dice. Add all to the baking sheet and roughly break broccoli florets by hand and add them. 
  4. Split vegetables in half and season half with the balsamic vinegar and garlic olive oil and the other with the sherry vinegar and lemon olive oil or juice and regular olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and mix each well with a gloved hand. Bake in oven next to chicken for 30 minutes. Set timer.
  5. Add quinoa and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. In a small blender or bullet device, add pesto ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth.
  7. Once quinoa is done, add to a bowl and and pesto. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once roasted veggies and chicken is done, remove from the oven. Turn it off.
  9. Enjoy!

*For optional shrimp, cook in 1 tsp of oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and garlic powder for 2 minutes. Juice a half a lemon over shrimp and flip them. Add a little more juice and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 minute as it will continue cooking.

A Bit Of Scallops

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Though scallops are not native to Louisiana, that certainly does not diminish my love for them. This dish came out of my need to use the kale I picked up from the farmers market last weekend; the other ingredients were items I had on hand. This is a quick and easy dish that takes 30 minutes or less and is modifiable with fish, shrimp or another protein of choice. You can also double the quinoa recipe for a second meal during the week with a different protein; my second meal with be with shrimp. 🙂 The recipe and ingredients are listed below. As always feel free to share your thoughts and the recipe with others. Enjoy!

Ingredients quinoa: (serves 4)
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white wine (drink worthy)
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper

Ingredients scallops:
4-6 sea scallops per person
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
*note the seasonings and butter above are per serving of scallops.

Directions:
1.  Chop onion, garlic and kale and sauté over medium heat in a splash of water.
2. Cook until soft, then add quinoa and toast for two minutes before adding the wine, remaining water and seasoning. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat and topping the pot. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
3. Take out scallops to let rest before cooking once the timer is at 15 minutes.
4. When the clock has 8 minutes remaining, open scallop packaging and lay out in an even layer. Sprinkle half of seasoning in an even coat on one side.
5. Melt butter over medium heat and once it begins to sizzle, add scallops seasoned side down. Season the other side and let cook for 3 minutes then flip to brown other side for another 2 minutes. (optional: add a tbsp. green onion.)
6. Remove from heat and let rest for a minute. (It will continue to cook slightly.)
7. Plate quinoa mixture and add scallops on top.
8. Enjoy!