2½cupslow-sodium chicken stock (or use water instead)
1¼cupstri color or regular quinoa
1cupbaby spinach, washed
1tablespoonchopped, fresh parsley
1cupcherry or grape tomatoes (you can keep them whole or slice them in half)
½cupgrated Parmesan cheese(or more if you'd like a more generous sprinkling on your dish)
Make the chicken
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Have ready a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.
Whisk together 2½ tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and basil in a medium bowl. Add in 1 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper.
Slice through the chicken breasts horizontally to make two thinner halves. Place the chicken in the baking dish, spaced evenly. Pour the sauce over all of the chicken, and turn the pieces to coat them all on both sides.
Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes until the breasts are cooked through with no pink remaining. Remove the pan from the oven and cover the chicken with foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
In the meantime make the quinoa
Bring 2½ cups of chicken stock (or water) to a boil in a large saucepan.
Place the washed baby spinach on cutting board and slice off any long stems. Run your knife through the leaves once or twice to cut them up just a little. Hold the spinach aside.
Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a mesh strainer. (This rinses away its natural, bitter-tasting coating.) When the stock or water comes to a boil add in the rinsed quinoa.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the quinoa for 10 minutes. Add in the spinach leaves, cover the pan and cook everything for 5 minutes more until the quinoa is cooked through. (Most or all of the liquid should be absorbed. If there's a lot of liquid left drain it off.) Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit covered until the chicken is done.
Assemble the meal
Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Add in the chopped parsley, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Gently stir these through the quinoa.
Slice the baked chicken into thin strips.
Scoop the quinoa onto dinner plates. Lay slices of chicken over the quinoa and spoon a little of the pan juices over the top if you would like. Top each plate with tomatoes and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
OPTION: Make-Ahead Lunches
Have ready 4-5 large, reheatable, covered containers that you can take to work. Let the chicken and quinoa-spinach mixture cool a bit.
Divide the quinoa between the containers. Add sliced chicken to each container, laying it over the quinoa. Add in (or pack separately) the tomatoes and grated Parmesan. Cover the containers tightly and store them in the refrigerator.
The meals can be warmed in a microwave.
Store leftovers or the make-ahead portions in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Makes 4-5 servings.
This recipe makes a wonderful dinner, and it also works great as a make-ahead lunch, giving 4 or 5 lunches ready to go for the week! In the recipe above there are directions for how to assemble the lunches.
The quinoa can be cooked in water or in chicken stock for extra flavor. I used tricolor quinoa in my recipe, but regular quinoa works fine, too.
Quinoa has a naturally-occurring coating called saponin which for some people gives the grains an earthier, sometimes bitter flavor. There are a wide range of opinions out there on whether or not it's necessary to rinse quinoa to remove this coating. I choose to rinse: it's not a complicated or lengthy step, and the quinoa I get at the end of cooking is light, fluffy, and tasty.