The weather has been iffy lately. One day it's gorgeous and the next it's grey, rainy and dreary. Today is one of those dreary days that gets me thinking about comfort food. The craving for comfort food is always dangerous especially since I'm really trying to maintain a healthy diet and not over indulge on fat laden foods.
Chicken Parmesan is one of my favourites. How do I get all the flavour without all the fat? I was completely and pleasantly surprised to find something that would fill the bill, give me the comfort and not load me up with fat. Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan from a dietician with an eye for trimming costs. A serving of 1 1/2 cups per person converts to an approximate cost of $1.90/per person. Makes a pretty good argument for eating at home.
Preheat the oven to 375.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
basil and oregano, to taste (I used about 1/4 cup total)
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup (4 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 oz parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano, shredded
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (optional, exclude to make gluten-free)
Fill a pan with 1-1 1/2 inches water. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add chicken. Cover and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Flip over the chicken and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Remove from water and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Spray a large baking dish with olive oil spray.
To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds.
Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping anything off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it’s almost fully absorbed.
Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, and then simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Place the quinoa in a mesh strainer, and rinse with cold water for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the quinoa and water (and a dash of salt) to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and chicken with the sauce and mix thoroughly.
Place half the mixture in the baking dish, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
Top with the remaining quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese, and the parmigiano/pecorino.
Add the breadcrumbs.
Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 more minutes.
Yield: 6 servings (about 1 1/3 cups each)
I know it's not beautiful to look at but the flavour is definitely there and the comfort is guilt free.