Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Kalamata Olives, Black Beans and Feta Cheese

Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Feta Cheese, and Chicken

Oh, holy grain, its quinoa! As one commenter on MyLifeRunsOnFood’s FaceBook page mentioned, it’s the fuel of marathoners. In America’s advancement of fast food that is supposed to save the world (it’s destroying it, but that’s another discussion), we’re missing out on interesting and natural ingredients that are also quick to make. People are increasingly curious about alternative choices outside America’s monotonous food system of taste. Quinoa first appears as tightly wound, packed grains (they’re actually seeds). After they cook, they become translucent and spirally. As mentioned before about seeds and grains, quinoa has a slight corn and nutty taste, for it mostly supports flavorful ingredients.

Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Feta Cheese, and Chicken

They are grains that start with an overnight soaking and at least 45 minutes to cook, such as wheatberries. Quinoa, like couscous, cooks in 15 minutes. I appreciate the energy it feeds my body the night before an early morning run or a few hours before a yoga class. It’s a nutrient-rich seed of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and iron. It’s a grain of marathoners, because it’s high in one of the eight essential amino acids (the foundation for building protein), Lysine. Lysine supports tissue growth and repair, especially after a sports-related injury, and it helps the body absorb calcium.

Preparing the vegetables for this recipe is easy. For some people, the eggplant is slightly more complex to prep, but directions in the recipe below are easy to follow. Use another favorite vegetable in this recipe, if it is not mentioned. All vegetables roast in 20 to 30 minutes. If starchy vegetables, such as potatoes are used, parboil them first. To boost the flavor of this dish, salty feta cheese and kalamata olives are added to make this a dinner to crave. Adding to this recipe are more protein rich ingredients, such as chicken and black beans. Vegetarians or households practicing “Meatless Monday,” can omit the chicken.

Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Kalamata Olives, Black Beans and Feta Cheese is a recipe converting many fast-food aficionados into enjoying healthier food. As mentioned before, eating vegetables is not boring. Mixing them with one of the world’s most nutrient-rich seeds create a flavorful dish. What’s more, it takes about 45 minutes to one hour to prepare and serve, making this a semi-fresh-food-fast dinner that packs well for lunch the next day.

» The Issues: Additives · http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/additives/
» Lysine · Wikipedia.com · http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysine
» Recipes for Health: Quinoa · NYTimes.com · http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/series/recipes_for_health/quinoa/index.html

Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Feta Cheese, and Chicken

Roast Vegetables

Red onion, Green Bell Pepper, and Cilantro

1 medium eggplant
10 oz. grape tomatoes; cut in half
1 bell pepper; roughly chopped
1 small red onion; roughly chopped
1 small garlic; minced
A generous drizzle of olive oil
The juice of one lime
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
A pinch of crushed red pepper

1. Peel and discard the eggplant skin. Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half. Then cut the halves horizontally into 1inch wide slices (the slices will resemble half moon shapes). Let the slices over a baking sheet and generously sprinkle salt over them. Let the eggplant slices sit for 20 to 30 minutes to let the salt draw out the bitterness. After 20 minutes, preheat oven to 400°F. Afterwards, rinse the eggplant slices to get rid of the salt. Cut slices into 1/2-inch chunks. Place aside.
2. Wash and dry the baking sheet, and line it with foil for easier clean up. Over the baking sheet lightly toss together the vegetables, including the eggplant, olive oil, lime juice, and spices.
3. Place baking sheet in the oven and roast vegetables for 20 to 30 minutes.
4. When the vegetables are soft and caramelized, remove them from the oven and place in a large bowl, including the juices. Place aside.

Seasoned Shredded Chicken
1/4 lb. chicken tenders or breast; skinless and boneless
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
A dash of celery seed
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
Cayenne pepper; to taste
4 to 5 tbsp. olive oil

1. If chicken breasts are used; cut into 3 to 4-inch strips. Season chicken with all the spices and 2 tbsp. olive oil. If time allows, marinate for one hour.
2. Over medium temperature, heat 2 to 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet. Place chicken in the skillet. Cook each side for five to 10 minutes (the thickness and size of the meat varies the time), until the inside is no longer pink. Remove chicken breasts to a paper towel lined plate. Let cool.
3. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat. Place aside.


Uncooked Quinoa
Uncooked Quinoa

1 cup of quinoa; rinse to remove the bitter coating that protects it from birds and rodents in a fine-strainer until the water is clear
1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
6-1/2 to 7 oz. water or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
Crushed red pepper; to taste

1. Place all ingredients in a medium pot and cover. Bring to a boil and reduce temperature to a low temperature and simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let quinoa sit for a few minutes. The texture will go from a solid grain to translucent with a spirally stem. Fluff with a fork. Place aside.

Plating Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Feta Cheese, and Chicken

Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Kalamata Olives, Black Beans and Feta Cheese

Roast Vegetables (Recipe/Directions above)
Shredded Chicken (Recipe/Directions above)
Quinoa (Recipe/Directions above or follow the manufacturer’s instructions)
1-14 oz. can of black beans; rinsed and drained
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
The juice and zest of one lime
4 to 6 oz feta cheese; crumbled or roughly chopped
1 cup cilantro; roughly chopped
A generous drizzle of olive oil
Optional Garnish: Turnip or Jicama Salsa

1. Lightly toss all ingredients, except garnish, together.
2. Top each serving with optional garnish. Enjoy at room temperature.
3. Enjoy

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A sweet, savory, buttery, green and healthy Food Blogger at MyLifeRunsOnFood.com and a creative thinking Art Director/Graphic Designer at SanuraWeathers.com.

5 thoughts on “Quinoa with Roast Vegetables, Kalamata Olives, Black Beans and Feta Cheese”

  1. Some local grocery stores sell quinoa for unreasonable high prices, because it’s considered a specialty product. It’s best to purchase quinoa or any type of grain at a natural/organic store with a bulk section.

  2. Can you buy quinoa from the local supermarket, would love to try and since it is the food of marathoners… 🙂

  3. What an attractive healthy food:) It sure beats the perception that healthy food does not taste or look good;)

  4. Lysine’s also great for those amongst us who um, ehem, have the occasional cold sore! I didn’t realise quinoa was a good source- just another reason to love those little guys! Thanks Sanura, and congrats on the nomination for the Black Webblog Awards. You’ve got my vote!!

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