This wonderful meal is a slight modification from "Quinoa 365", by Patricia and Carolyn Hemming. The Quinoa Sisters followed this up with another Quinoa book - I have yet managed to make all 365 recipes from the first - and everything I have made has been great! Check out their other publications . [Update - an amazing Chocolate Quinoa Cake inspired by the Quinoa Sisters.]

Quinoa is considered to be an ancient grain - though experts hasten to point out that it is actually a seed, and was domesticated thousands of years ago in South America. Though familiar to some, I had only begun to hear about it a year or so before the publication of Quinoa 365 in 2010. The appeal and success of those recipes made it easy for me to adopt quinoa as a staple. It seems I was not alone. It's popularity skyrocketed and "between 2006 and 2013, quinoa crop prices tripled" [Source] affecting food security for those in indigenous regions. That they are considered to be a protein and are gluten-free adds to their popularity. There are many varieties of quinoa - white, red and black are the ones you'll find most easily at grocery stores. They are easy to prepare, but must be rinsed before cooking to remove the bitter outer coating.

Moroccan spices have become increasingly popular and all four used here to flavour the chicken fit with the flavourings of Moroccan Cuisine. [Source]

if you ever peek at the original recipe, you'll see it serves 4, but I use more chicken and double the quinoa and get at least 6 servings from it.


    Getting Ready:

    • prep onion (can be done day before)
    • mix spices (can be done day before)
    • rinse quinoa (quinoa could be done day before, but there's plenty of time to do it while the chicken is cooking)
    • shell the pistachios if you purchased "shell on".

    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    ¼ tsp ground ginger
    ¼ tsp ground turmeric
    ¼ tsp ground coriander

    Combine the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and coriander in a small bowl and set aside until next step.

    boneless chicken (breast or thigh)

    2-3 TB butter

    The recipe calls for 4 boneless chicken breasts, but I prefer thighs - more flavourful. I use an entire “large” tray of boneless skinless upper thighs – there are probably about 9-12 pieces - this quantity fills my fry pan – and/but the chicken does shrink as it cooks.

    Melt the butter in a large sauce pan on medium heat and place the chicken in the pan. (Place top side down first.)  Fry for about five minutes until they are nicely browned. (May take longer if using chicken breasts.)

    Turn the chicken pieces over with that nice sear facing up. Sprinkle the spice mixture (from above) over the chicken.

    1 cup water
    3 TB orange juice
    2 tsp minced fresh garlic

    pinch salt

    I onion (Vidalia)

    Stir together the water and orange juice and garlic. Pour this around the chicken. I try to avoid pouring it right on top - I like those sprinkled spices to stay on the chicken. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the chicken.

    The original recipe calls for one cup diced onion, but I prefer to buy a Vidalia onion, cut it in half and slice thin half moons. Distribute these over top of the meat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes.

    [While chicken is cooking, make quinoa - see below.]

    Remove cover. Before serving, I reduce the liquid a bit to more of a sauce consistency. You could even add a wee knob of butter. 

    1 1/3 cup quinoa (rinsed)
    2 2/3 cups water

    2 TB butter
    4 tsp honey
    ½ tsp salt
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    2/3 cup pistachios (roasted, unsalted) 

    [Re Quinoa: If you ever peek at the original recipe, note that I have doubled most of the ingredients.]

    While the chicken is simmering, prepare the quinoa by bringing the quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional seven minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

    Remove the quinoa from the heat and toss with the butter, honey and salt. Stir in the cinnamon and pistachios. Salt to taste.

    Notes and Tips...

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    Two great side dishes to make this a memorable meal!

    Like Moroccan flavours? Try this!