Summertime

It is hot here.  And I don’t mean, “gee, it’s warm, perhaps we should look into air conditioning”.  I mean HOT.  As in, if you don’t have A/C you’re being instructed to go to a “cooling center.”  It’s hot.

Between the heat and the baby weight I’m dying to shed, eating is not high on my priority list.  (Yes, it is hot enough that I’m losing my appetite.  Go figure.)  It also makes me feel like I’m back with Grandma for the summer, planning healthy salads and trips to the farmer’s market in order to get fresh produce and trying to resist the homemade pies.

What to cook?  Well, slap on K.D. Lang’s Invincible Summer (the ultimate summer CD) and hit the kitchen.  Briefly.  Or, crank up your grill and grill burner outside and hit your deck/patio/backyard. We’ll be making BBQ Chicken and Quinoa Salad.

No, seriously, stay with me, because even though you may dislike quinoa, this is worth it.  I swear.  In fact, I told my husband we were having this for dinner and he turned to me and said, “It would be ok with me if you stopped trying to like quinoa.  Really.”  Then he ate the salad and had to admit it was pretty damn good.

It was so good that I had it for lunch the next day.  And, for the record, I hate quinoa.  But, as referenced above, I keep trying to like it as it’s really good for you. I have found that I prefer the red kind but only had white in the house.  The salad was good enough that I didn’t even care.

This is some kick-ass salad.

BBQ Chicken and Quinoa Salad (based losely on this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats)

Ingredients

1-2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

1-2 ears of shucked corn on the cob (or 1 cup kernels)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup black beans (not dried)

1/4 cup BBQ sauce, plus more for chicken so maybe 1/2-3/4 cup in all

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Optional:

Cilantro (Yuck.  We all know how I feel about it)

1/2 avacado, sliced

Directions:

I suspect, after some googling, that you are able to grill raw corn.  If so, it saves you turning on your stove.  If you don’t want to, boil water to cook your corn.  At the same time, heat up your grill.  Season your chicken with salt and pepper and throw it on the grill to cook.  I actually baked mine the day before because I was Getting Things Accomplished.  You could use any cooked chicken you had around, baked, grilled, sauteed, whatever makes you happy.

Now, to the quinoa.  Put it into a mesh strainer and wash the hell out of it.  Seriously.  Rinse it for several minutes in cold water.  This will make it not bitter. 

Once it’s rinsed, heat up a saute or saucepan on the stove or your grill burner.  Toss in a little bit of olive oil and then the quinoa- you’re going to toast the heck out of it, something that also keeps it from being too bitter. 

Do this over medium to high heat, stirring so that it doesn’t burn.  Once it’s toasted enough- I’d say you can’t over-toast- a few minutes, add the chicken broth, lower the heat to medium-low and throw a cover on it.  Just leave it alone now.  It’ll do its thing.

Ok, throw your corn in the water or on the grill.  I chose to do both- cooked it in the water for a few minutes and then put it on the grill to roast a bit.

Once your chicken is cooked, cube it up and toss it with some BBQ sauce.  Pre-made sauce is all sugar but I love it.  Since I bought it from Whole Foods, does it count as healthy?

Grill your corn and let it cool.  Cut the kernels off of it.  Try not to snack on too many as you do.

Shred your cheese, slice your avacado, drain and rinse your beans and check on your quinoa.  I let mine cook quite a while and it made it fluffy which I liked better than “popp-y”, if that makes any sense.  There was still the texture I associate with quinoa but it was softer somehow.

Mix the BBQ sauce and yogurt together to make a surprisingly tasty, creamy dressing.


Now for the fun part.  Put it all together and eat.  Throw some quinoa on the plate and top with some of the beans, cheese, avocado, corn and beans.  Drizzle the dressing on top and try not to gobble the whole thing up in one gulp.

This photo does not do it justice but honestly, I was too eager to eat to take any more.  The qunioa soaks up the dressing, the corn pops and the cheese, beans and avocado are all creamy and filling.  The hardiness of the chicken and the sweetness of the BBQ sauce make it the perfect combination.  I’m telling you, it’s been a day and I’m already thinking about making it for dinner again tonight.  Mmmmm.

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