Chicken & Toasted Quinoa Bowls with Garlic-Sauteed Veggies and Pine Nuts

(Serves about 4)

(This can be made one “bowl” at a time, by using a portion of the ingredients and making it to order; also, the individual ingredients can be prepped ahead of time and kept in the fridge, and when you're ready to have the meal, the quinoa and chicken can be reheated, and the veggies sauteed very quickly.)

Ingredients:

• Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press, divided use
1 ½ cups quinoa (uncooked)
• Salt
3 cups water
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced into small pieces* (see note)
1 medium zucchini, diced finely into tiny cubes
2 ½ cups broccoli florets, chopped into tiny pieces and blanched** (see note)
2 cups dark leafy greens, chopped into bite-size pieces (I used “rainbow” swiss chard)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
• Black pepper
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
¼ cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish
4 lemon wedges, for garnish

(*To cook the chicken, I sliced the breasts in half length-wise to create 4 thinner cutlets; then, I seasoned them with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and garlic powder, and seared them in a hot pan with a touch of olive oil for about 2-3 minutes per side, and diced them.)

(**To blanch the chopped broccoli florets, add them into a small pot of boiling water for about 20-30 seconds, then drain them and shock in a bowl of ice water; drain them once again, and pat dry.)

Preparation:

-Prepare the quinoa by placing a non-stick, medium-size pot over medium high heat, and adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil; once the oil is hot, add in 1 clove of pressed garlic, and stir; once the garlic becomes fragrant, add in the quinoa and about 1 teaspoon of the salt, and stir to combine and coat the quinoa in the oil/garlic, toasting the quinoa for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently; next, add in the water, and stir together; bring the contents to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, and simmer the quinoa until all water is absorbed, for about 20-22 minutes; once cooked, uncover and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, then gently fluff with a fork; set aside and keep warm.

-Re-heat the diced chicken, if necessary, and keep warm.

-To prepare the bowls, place a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat; add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, and once it becomes hot, add the diced zucchini in; leave the zucchini undisturbed for a moment in order to create a bit of a brown “sear” or caramelization on the bottom, for about 1-2 minutes; then stir the zucchini a little bit, and add in the chopped broccoli florets to the pan, folding them in to incorporate them into the zucchini; next, add in the 2 remaining cloves of pressed garlic, and stir; once the garlic is aromatic, add in the chopped leafy greens and the halved cherry tomatoes, and stir the mixture together to incorporate all the flavors; add a pinch or two of salt and pepper, as well as the chopped parsley and cilantro, and cook for about 30 seconds more; turn off the heat.

-To serve, spooning equal portions of the quinoa into bowls; spoon equal portions of the diced chicken into each bowl, as well as equal portions of the sauteed garlic veggies; garnish with about 1 tablespoon of toasted pine nuts, as well as a wedge of lemon to squeeze over top to brighten up the flavors.