My Italian Chicken and Veggie Quinoa recipe is a wonderfully filling and tasty meal. It is loaded with juicy chicken, healthy vegetables, and quinoa. It is a low fat, gluten-free, and for those following Trim Healthy Mama, it is an “E”.
Italian Chicken & Veggie Quinoa
Lately, I’ve been trying to get some variety in our diets and that includes trying some new items like quinoa. We don’t often buy grains since we mostly eat gluten-free and try to stay closer to a low carb lifestyle.
But we like to have a couple of options on our meal plans for healthier carbs. With that in mind, we thought it was time to try some quinoa. And what better way to give it a try than with a new recipe!
While this type of grain is something we don’t eat on a daily basis, it fits nicely into my Trim Healthy Mama eating plan under their meal type called “E”.
With just two steps to the entire recipe, cooking the quinoa and preparing the chicken with veggies, the recipe is a breeze to prepare and you can have it ready in about an hour to serve around your family table.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is not a product that I grew up eating, so although I had heard of it, I had not used it in a recipe or even tasted it for that matter. Ack, how can I call myself a foodie, right? But never fear, I have made sure to try and learn more about this “ancient grain” now.
Quinoa is considered a grain, but actually, it isn’t a grain at all. It comes from an annual seed-producing plant that is grown as a grain crop. It isn’t a grass like wheat and rice are and strangely enough, I learn through research that it is actually related to spinach and beets.
I knew I like this quinoa for a reason! Those are two of my favorite veggies. Call me odd, but it’s true I love beets!
Quinoa is said to be rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and has minerals in amounts greater than in many modern grains. So it makes a great choice in recipes like this Italian Chicken & Veggie recipe.
It is a naturally gluten-free free food, but I did learn while doing this post that it is often processed in factories that also process wheat, so just be mindful of that if you have a gluten intolerance.
Which Quinoa Do I Use?
Since I am new to the quinoa bandwagon I was a bit lost when I went to the grocery store on my search. You see, there are over 100 types of quinoa so I had no clue how many I would find on the local shelves.
I wasn’t ready to have to make that decision if I had to search through them all. But, I personally have only found varieties in my local store. They are white, red, and black.
White quinoa is the most widely available in stores and so far it is the one my family prefers. In my opinion, it has the mildest flavor of the three and it takes on the flavors of the other ingredients well in recipes.
I’ve seen the red quinoa used more in meals like salads, and I believe that is due to the texture. It is firmer and holds its shape more when cooked. The flavor profile is also different and much stronger.
However, we did not enjoy the flavor of the red at all, so we’ll stick to the white quinoa for now. I totally recommend using the white with this Italian Chicken & Veggie Quinoa!
I’d love to hear which types you have tried and which one you enjoy the most!
Preparing The Quinoa
There is one important step to take first when cooking this grain. Rinse…rinse…rinse! Quinoa has this odd coating on the outside that can give it a bitter flavor if not rinsed well. I’ve heard that most packaged brands have been rinsed already, but trust me…rinse it again before cooking!
When it comes to cooking it is simple and much like rice. The package directions on both the red and white, recommends using the typical method on the stovetop. The process is simple with a certain ratio of water to grain with a cook time of about 45 minutes.
Instant Pot…why not?
I’ve had success many times using the stovetop method but of course, we are living in the day of “hurry up and rush” right? So I hopped online in search of directions for Instant Pot Quinoa.
Because who wants to wait 45 minutes on something to cook, when you can have it in 5 minutes right?
Of course, I was not disappointed because there are tons of blogs out there showing how easy it is to cook quinoa in a pressure cooker. In fact, I made my quinoa for this recipe in the Instant Pot following the directions from the blog Rachel Cooks! It only takes 1 minute (after it comes to pressure) to make the quinoa in the Instant Pot and her tips and post made it super easy.
The texture was a little less fluffy when I used the Instant Pot, but I have to admit that I got distracted and let it sit too long after it finished cooking. Oops!
So it was a great time saver for this recipe if you follow the directions on Rachel’s recipe and don’t forget about it as this silly girl did. Repeat after me “mushy quinoa is not good quinoa”.
But one thing is for sure, no matter what process you use to cook the quinoa I promise this recipe will be your new favorite way to eat it! I know it is my favorite for sure.
- 1.5 cups dry quinoa, prepared according to package
- 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil
- 12 ounces of frozen onion and pepper mix
- 2 pounds of chicken breast, cubed
- 2 medium zucchini, washed and cubed
- 1 (14.5 ounces) can of Italian style diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon garlic
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- Prepare the quinoa per the package directions. Tip, I prefer to use a fat free chicken broth instead of water when making my quinoa. It gives it a much deeper flavor.
- In a large skillet over medium heat add in the coconut oil and once it is hot add in the onions and pepper mix, zucchini, and the cubed chicken breast.
- Cook the the ingredients until the chicken is cooked through.
- Next add in the tomatoes. Once the chicken is cooked, I advise to taste and adjust as you go to meet your tastes.
- Add in the cooked quinoa and spices. Mix well and taste to ensure it is seasoned to your liking before serving.
In this dish a large amount of spices are used because of the amount of quinoa and other ingredient. We like lots of flavor but if you don't like as much just cut back to 2 teaspoons of each spice. A great way to ensure it meets your taste preference is to taste as you go and adjust as needed.
I am a southern girl through and through that loves to laugh, cook, read and spend time with family. My passions outside of home schooling my son are ministering to those in need and creating art in the kitchen! Every day is an adventure in our little house and I wouldn’t trade it or the chance to share here with you for anything!