Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa

If you haven’t tried quinoa yet, I think this is the perfect way to try it for the first time – as a side dish to some yummy chicken that ends up stealing the whole show. Wow! I’m a little embarrassed to use such a silly cliché, but this quinoa is bursting with flavor. If you like lime and cilantro and want to give quinoa a try, this really is a great choice. And it’s so easy!

The only thing I’m not 100% in love with in this recipe is the avocado cream sauce I topped the chicken with. It’s that damn Greek yogurt again…I just can’t get behind it. I’ve found some recipes that it works well in (like this and this), and others that it does not. Anyway, if you like Greek yogurt, make this as is, but if not – maybe use low-fat sour cream (or omit the avocado cream sauce all together).

BLACKENED CHICKEN WITH CILANTRO LIME QUINOA (adapted from Sarcastic Cooking)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and strained with a fine mesh strainer
Juice and zest from two limes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado (optional)
2 tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)

  1. Combine all dry seasonings in small bowl. Mix together and season both sides of each chicken breast.
  2. Add olive oil to a large pan or skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook for 7 minutes on each side with the lid on, or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees. After the chicken breasts have cooked all the way through, remove them from the pan and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing them.
  3. Add chicken stock and quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes with lid on until all the stock has been absorbed. Add warm quinoa to a large bowl. Toss in the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix to combine.
  4. Serve sliced chicken breast on top of the quinoa. If desired, top with quick avocado cream sauce, made by combining flesh from avocado and Greek yogurt in food processor until smooth.

Tip: microwave your limes 15-20 seconds before cutting them open and juicing them to get the most juice possible out of them. If you don’t have a mesh strainer for the quinoa (like me), you can improvise with a strong paper towel (but you really should invest in a mesh strainer! Geez!). You definitely don’t want to skip rinsing the quinoa, though – otherwise it’ll be gritty and completely fail to live up to its delicious potential.

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