Some of you out there have never tried quinoa before. Others have tried it but decided it just wasn’t for you. And still others of you have become somewhat enamored by the good-for-you grain-like little beads. If you fall into any of these categories, but especially the first two, then I dedicate this recipe to you …
… Because I bet you like breaded or fried or otherwise “crusted” chicken or fish. The irresistibly crunchy outside, followed by a juicy fillet that’s kept even moister by the crust. And here’s a way to make it a tad crunchier and a lot healthier – not to mention that it holds up at least twenty times better as cold leftovers straight out of the fridge. Using quinoa for breading your chicken (or fish!) doesn’t just add extra texture, but also is mild-flavored enough to accommodate whatever spices you wish to use and adds a nice dose of fiber and complete proteins to your meal.
So instead of a protein meal camouflaged in carb-alicious bread crumbs, you get a protein-on-protein dish that pairs well with hot sauce and your choice of veggies or a puffy, buttery popover. Or both. Though I would personally recommend some hearty, warm and comforting, yet uber-healthy lentils (goes well with the hot sauce!).
For those quinoa-phobes, this quinoa-crusted chicken recipe features a small enough amount of quinoa to make it worth trying out, without having to commit to an entire quinoa-based salad as a meal. And for those who have already turned their noses up at quinoa, this is an easy way to give it a second chance and incorporate it into your diet in a non-committal way because the quinoa is not the primary flavor involved – the meat or fish is! That alone should overcome your qualms about giving it another try, and if you serve it with your favorite sauce, you won’t be disappointed.
Serves 2 to 4, depending on what side dish you pair this with
This quinoa crust is very mild tasting, so I highly recommend incorporating your own favorite breading spices or serving with your sauce of choice – whether it be ketchup (though I hope not) or a delightfully spicy habanero sauce. Also, if you’re serving a guy who first eats (or, at least, assesses and complains about portions) with his eyes, an easy way to make chicken go further is to slice it per the instructions below, so that you essentially create 2 thinner breasts out of one thick breast. He won’t notice the difference, but if he’s truly hungry after one thin breast, he can eat another (but, in my experience, he likely won’t – something about that I-already-ate-one threshold seems to make (some) men think twice about having seconds – whether it’s chicken parmesan or quinoa-crusted chicken … note to self: this would work really well for chicken parmesan too).
2 chicken breasts
1/2 c. quinoa, partially ground in coffee grinder or food processor (Note: I used uncooked quinoa, but others have mentioned that they preferred it with cooked quinoa; you choose)
3 green onions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
hot sauce for serving (I used The Pepper Plant’s Habaneros Extra Hot Sauce)
Slice chicken in half to create 4 thinner (but still full length and width) chicken breasts out of the original 2 thicker breasts. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and set aside.
Mix quinoa, green onions, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a shallow bowl large enough to dredge chicken breasts. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Dip one dried chicken breast in the egg, making sure egg completely covers the chicken. Allow excess egg to drip off, then dredge through the quinoa mixture, making sure mixture sticks to and covers the chicken. Set chicken aside on a plate, and repeat for remaining chicken breasts.
Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Add chicken, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes (timing will depend on thickness of the chicken breast, as well as the type of pan you use), until browned. Flip chicken over, and cook until browned, another 3-5 minutes. Serve with your favorite hot sauce, marinara sauce or other sauce for dipping.