Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
45 minutes tops and dinner is done.
I know a guy.
And this guy asked me about chicken recently. This guy has a lady friend he wants to impress and a weird schedule just like mine that he needs to work with, meaning he can’t spend hours in the kitchen.
So, what’s a guy to do, right?
Em, chicken is boring. I put it in the oven and then what?”
So, we got to talking. A little friendly chicken banter. Spit balling some ideas. I asked him what he liked, and without skipping a beat he says, “Mediterranean.” Half joking, but half serious.
I rolled with it.
I mentioned things like balsamic, basil, and sundried tomatoes. Sundried tomatoes. He stops me right there.
“Wait a gosh darn minute. Sundried tomatoes?? THOSE ARE SO GOOD.”
I kid you not.
This guy loses his mind. I mean I love me a good sundried tomato. It adds a wonderful texture and sweetness that you can’t find from a fresh tomato. But my god does he love them. I sat there in a very entertained shock as I let him temporarily lose his shit. Apparently, he had no idea about his obsession until he ate something recently with some chewy, sweet sundried tomatoes in it and could not get over how delicious it was.
So, as he relished in his cherished memory of sundried tomatoes, I stewed over this recipe. One I’ve made in the past and one that can constantly be tweaked and adjusted to meet your specific tastes. Maybe you aren’t obsessed with sundried tomatoes. Totally cool, forget them. Maybe feta makes you gag. Maybe you don’t even know what it is. That’s fine, swap it for those fresh little mozzarella balls.
As is my mentality around all cooking: think food, not recipes.
Use a recipe as a framework. As a guideline. Use what you like and eliminate what you don’t. Use herbs that are in your pantry. Customize to meet your goals and needs. Are you paleo? Leave out the cheese and substitute cauliflower rice. Maybe throw in some avocado chunks (woah actually, you should do that regardless, that would be a damn delightful).
Long story short, don’t overthink it. Learn from it. See what you liked and change what you didn’t. And please, let me know in the comments what you did to make it yours, I’d love to know.
Balsamic roasted chicken with Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
For the roasted chicken:
- 1lb chicken breasts
- 2tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1tsp herb de Provence (can sub a pinch or two of dried rosemary, dried thyme, dried basil, anything you have. Herbs = flavor but they also won’t make or break the recipe!)
Salt and pepper
For the Quinoa salad:
- 4oz crumbled feta (can sub those lovely little mozzarella balls)
- 2-3 tbsp. chopped sundried tomatoes (the ones packed in olive oil are softer and chewier. Trader joes has a good bag of ones that are drier. Doesn’t have to be exact – we just want the flavor and texture!)
- ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (omit or substitute cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles to make paleo and gluten free)
- ½ an English cucumber, chopped
- Fresh herbs! Any mix of herbs – I always add basil to everything in life. Flat leaf parsley, dill, and mint are all great! Or any mix of all of them.
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice – squeezed from 1 whole lemon for some zing (yes, that’s a thing)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
For the chicken:
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Combine the balsamic, olive oil, and dried herbs and whisk together
3. Spray a baking sheet or glass baking dish with cooking spray and add chicken
4. Pour mixture over the chicken
5. Sprinkle salt and on one side. Flip chicken and do the same! We want the chicken to be coated with the balsamic mixture and a good amount of salt and pepper on both sides.
6. Bake in the oven for about 30-40mins until the juices run nice and clear
For the salad:
1. Combine all the things in a big bowl for the salad!
2. Pour over the balsamic Dijon dressing
3. Give it a taste and add more dressing, cheese, veggies, salt or pepper as you like! It’s one of those salads that the longer it sits the better it will get!
Let the chicken rest for a good ten minutes. Spoon a big heap of the quinoa salad onto a plate, slice up the roasted chicken breast, squeeze some additional lemon over the top and maybe a sprinkle of any leftover herbs and enjoy!