Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Italian-Style Chicken & Vegetable Quinoa Stew

Over the course of the past 3 years, I've kind of forgotten what it's like to eat for only one person.  I've gone from pregnant to nursing to pregnant with twins to nursing twins, and in that time have pretty much just eaten whatever I wanted, and pretty however much of it I wanted.  While I generally eat pretty healthy, snacking, late-night desserts, and portion sizes were definitely out of control; so needless to say, once I weaned the twins this fall, it kind of all caught up to me.

Thus, I've been counting calories via My Fitness Pal.  It's been eye-opening to say the least, and has definitely helped me to get a handle on it all.  It's been a good reminder of how much food I actually need versus how much I eat.  Tracking my calories definitely helps to reign in mindless snacking, cut down on the fancy calorie-bomb coffee drinks, and just generally keep me in check.

However, over Thanksgiving, I threw all my good habits out the window, and as we all tend to do over the holidays, I ate waaaaay too much.  Pie for breakfast?  Okay!  Gravy on everything?  Why not?!  By Sunday afternoon, I NEEDED something wholesome, satisfying, and healthy. Enter this quinoa stew.  I had plenty of leftover turkey meat,  I'd already made a big pot of stock, and I had a good assortment of herbs leftover from all of my Thanksgiving cooking; so I threw this together for dinner that night.

It was healthy, hearty, and just what I needed to get back on track.  I've taken to using quinoa instead of rice in many recipes, and I love that it provides extra protein and fiber, while still giving you that "starchy" comfort food feel that you get from rice.  With tomatoes, spinach, carrots, and onions, this isn't short on the veggies, but I think mushrooms would be lovely here as well.  It's a simple, one-pot recipe, but paired with some garlic bread, makes for a comforting and cozy winter meal.  We all loved this stew (especially Henry and Tucker!), so it will definitely be making repeat appearances in the next few months.

I know everyone is pinning and saving recipes for Christmas cookies, candy, cakes, and cocktails, but you still have to eat dinner.  So why not make it healthy?

Italian-Style Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa Stew

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme*
  • 1 tsp minced fresh oregano*
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cups chopped/shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh parsley
  • chopped fresh basil, for garnish
  • freshly shaved parmesan cheese, for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering, then sauté the onion and carrots until softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, tomato paste, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly for an additional minute.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, and quinoa, and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook until the quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Add the chicken and spinach, and cook until the spinach wilts and the chicken is heated through, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the chopped parsley, then taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  If the stew seems too thick, stir in additional broth.

Ladle the stew into bowls, then top each serving with chopped basil and freshly shaved parmesan cheese (I use my veggie peeler to just shave off thin pieces from the wedge).  Serve.

*1 teaspoon of dried herbs can be substituted for the fresh herbs here.  I'd recommend using an Italian dried herb blend or even Herbes de Provence.


The USA Kiwi said...

What do the * mean next to the fresh herbs?

Josie said...

Oops! I guess it helps to actually have the footnote if you denote one - thanks Kylee!

Mandy said...

This looks so delicious

Josie said...

I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious!!

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