Chicken with Pesto Quinoa


Here’s a list of 12 things I would have rather had for lunch today instead of the boring and uninspired salad I made myself at HyVee:

1).  My mom’s New Year’s Day pork chops with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and green peas.

2).  A big bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Puffs cereal.

3).  A Thai Dog from Dog Nuvo with a side of their amazing house made truffle potato chips.

4).  A giant bowl of Happy Gillis’ butternut squash soup with chorizo and goat cheese. And if I had room, half of a Happy Gillis meatloaf sandwich. And, of course, one of their big cookies.

5).  Pork chile made with my homemade green tomatillo sauce with a side of Jeff’s doctored up black beans.

6).  An enormous granola banana pancake with butter syrup.

7).  Wings from the Miami County (Kansas) airport. A whole bucket of them.

8).  Bombay Chicken from Swagat with a truckload of fresh Naan.

9).  A big fat piece of my Christmas bread pudding.

10).  My mother’s swiss steak and peas served over a giant buttered baked potato.

11).  A plate full of Jeff’s red beans and rice made with braised pork.

12).  Left overs from last night’s chicken with pesto quinoa.

Sadly, we had no leftover chicken or pesto quinoa after dinner last night. And I wish we did. It was sooooo tasty. The good news is that it was one of the easiest to prepare dinners I’ve ever made so I’ll definitely be doing it again.  Before I tell you the recipe, let me tell you a few things I learned about quinoa today.

Quinoa is a SEED – not a grain.  (Specifically, they are seeds from an herbaceous plant native to the Americas, with origins in the tropics.)

Therefore it is a gluten-free food and excellent for people who are diabetic or needing to watch their carbohydrates.

You’ll be able to tell when quinoa is done cooking by it’s appearance. When uncooked the seeds are a solid color – it comes in ivory, pink, brown and red. Once cooked they become somewhat transparent. Also, the seeds will display a little white thread that will curl around their edges. You can give it a taste-test as well. Done quinoa will be chewy but not crunchy.

Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods around. It’s super high in protein, calcium, iron, and is a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino. It is also exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids.



  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 pieces of chicken, cleaned with all visible fat removed
  • salt and pepper (for chicken)
  • 1 c quinoa
  • 1 1/3 c water
  • 3 -4 TBSP of your favorite pesto (we used our own from this summer that we froze in ice cube trays)
  • tomato, diced
  • 2 TBSP shredded mozzarella


  1. Combine olive oil and quinoa together in a medium sized pot. Cook the quinoa over medium heat for 5 minutes, stiring constantly. After 5 minutes add water (or chicken stock if you prefer) and give it a quick stir. Slap a lid on and turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. At this point you’ll want to salt and pepper your chicken breasts and place them under the broiler. Broil for 5-6 minutes per side (bigger pieces of chicken will take more time).
  3. Once your chicken is done, pull it out from under the broiler, top with a TBSP of shredded motz each, and slide back under the heat for just long enough to melt the cheese, around 1 minute.  By this time your quinoa should be finishing up.  Take the pot with your quinoa off the heat and fluff with a fork and give it a taste test. It should be chewy, but not crunchy. If it’s crunchy, put the lid back on for a few more minutes and then try again.
  4. Mix your pesto into the quinoa and give it another taste test. Depending on the brand of pesto you’re using you may want to add more salt. But promise me you won’t add any until you try. Always taste first.
  5. Now, all you have to do is assemble. Plate – quinoa – chicken – tomatoes. Done and delicious!

2 thoughts on “Chicken with Pesto Quinoa

  1. Kathie Duguid says:

    Wish I had your will power. Your Chicken with Pesto Quinoa looks and sounds great.

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