Paprika-Lemon Chicken with Sautéed Kale and Quinoa Tabouli is Hit Dinner #10 in my recipe journal. I started keeping a journal in my kitchen three years ago. Whenever I “wing” a meal that everyone likes I write it down in my journal. I wish I had started doing this many years ago because my journal would be filled by now. Before starting the journal I’d throw something together for dinner, all of my guys would like it, but I didn’t write it down. I thought at the time that I would remember what I had created, but unfortunately I never did. Even with my journal I’ve missed recording some great meals because I got busy and thought, “I’ll write it down later.” Needless to say, “later” never comes. I am learning that I have to do it in the moment or else it doesn’t happen.
Why Dinner Menus?
There is a reason why I want to record the entire meal. I experiment with recipes all the time, but then I also have to come up with an idea for the side dish. We get bored with steamed broccoli, or I fall into a salad rut. When I make a dinner where every part comes together, I want to remember what I made so I can do it again. My dream is to write a cookbook based entirely on seasonal dinner menus that are simple, fresh and easy to prepare. Of course they have to taste good as well.
Paprika-Lemon Chicken with Sautéed Kale and Quinoa Tabouli
This Paprika-Lemon Chicken was our dinner Sunday night. I already had the buckwheat soaking in a Mason jar because I had planned to use it in a salad. However, I had forgotten to thaw the salmon and as a result didn’t have a complete dinner plan. When Rob called me from the market to see if there was anything I needed, I thought for a moment, and then asked him to get a couple boneless chicken breasts. While waiting for him, I cooked the grains and pulled a bunch of veggies out of the refrigerator. I do my grocery shopping on Mondays, so by Sunday it’s time to use up whatever is left. We had a red pepper, red onion, cucumber, parsley and garlic to make a tabouli style salad with quinoa and buckwheat. I also found a bunch of kale that needed to be eaten. Bingo! I had my dinner plan.
I should probably call it Quinoa-Buckwheat Tabouli, but that was too long. You could do this with any grain. I wanted to try buckwheat, which is naturally gluten-free, and I like using quinoa. Quinoa is actually not a grain even though we prepare it like a grain. It’s a pseudo-cereal loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals, and it’s high in protein.
Cook the buckwheat and quinoa each for about 15 minutes. It’s best to soak the buckwheat prior to cooking to make it easier to digest and allow you to absorb more of its vital vitamins and minerals. Put the buckwheat in a glass bowl or jar in the morning, add warm water and then cover the container with a clean kitchen towel. It can sit on the counter until you are ready to use it. Rinse the quinoa and soaked buckwheat before cooking. I cooked mine separately, but you could try cooking them together. Use enough water in the pot to cover buckwheat and/or quinoa by about two inches, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes. The buckwheat should be tender but not mushy, and the quinoa should have little white halos around them. Quinoa comes in different colors. The kind I used was a mix. When done, rinse under cold water and combine in a bowl. I used about a cup of each of the cooked quinoa and buckwheat and the rest I stored to use in a soup later in the week.
Traditional tabouli is more parsley than anything else. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of parsley but it is a great herb for digestion and detox. Use the amount that suits you. Sweet peppers and cucumbers are among the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables that you should absolutely buy and eat organic. This is because they have some of the highest pesticide loads even after peeling and washing. Just to be clear, I don’t peel red peppers, but I will peel and remove the seeds from cucumbers in salads. They aren’t as bitter that way however, you lose some of their nutritional value.
Chop the vegetables and combine them with the quinoa and buckwheat. Stir in 2 TBS of extra virgin olive oil, a TBS of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a TBS of fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust the oil and acids to your taste. Finish it off with a pinch or two of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
This is going to sit while you cook the chicken and kale. The flavors will have time to settle in and get all happy together. Taste again before serving and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
I used two boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the two of us and we had some left over. Put the chicken breasts between some plastic wrap on top of a non-wood cutting board.
Before you start pounding the chicken with a meat mallet smash three cloves of garlic on the cutting board you used for the veggies. You could do it with the flat side of a chopping knife but, since the mallet is out I like to give the garlic a good bang with it. The garlic will be used with the kale so peel off the thin papery skin and set it aside.
Pound the chicken until it is about a 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap. Season the tops of the chicken breasts with a pinch of sea salt, a tsp of smoked paprika, a couple turns on the pepper mill and a 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice. Turn them over and do the same on the back side.
Heat the avocado oil over medium heat until it will move easily around in your grill pan. Add the chicken breasts and let them cook for 4 minutes.
Start the Kale
While the chicken cooks wash and de-stem one bunch of leafy green kale. Heat another TBS of avocado oil in a separate pan over medium heat. When you can swirl the oil around to coat the pan add the smashed garlic cloves.
It should be time to turn the chicken.
Doesn’t that look good? It will be a nice golden-red color. Set the timer for another 4 minutes for the chicken and start cooking the kale. After cooking the second side, remove the chicken and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing into strips.
When the garlic starts to brown swirl it around in the oil and then add the kale. Be careful, if your kale is still wet from washing it the oil will spit at you. I try to add the kale all at once to cover the pan surface. Turn the kale over as it cooks so that it wilts evenly and doesn’t burn on the bottom.
The kale will be nicely wilted. Before serving sprinkle it with a pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of lemon juice. I’m amazed at how little there is once it’s wilted. Rob and I will eat the entire bunch in one meal. I could eat kale like this every day. I love it! Adjust the salt and lemon to your taste buds.
Paprika-Lemon Chicken with Sautéed Kale and Quinoa Tabouli
There’s your Paprika-Lemon Chicken with Sautéed Kale and Quinoa Tabouli dinner. Plate it all up and enjoy!. I happened to have some pomegranate seeds that needed to be used, so I topped the tabouli with those and chopped raw almonds for added crunch. These are optional additions.
Yields 2 servings
Paprika-Lemon Chicken with Sautéed Kale and Quinoa Tabouli
1/2 a chopped Cucumber, peeled and de-seeded if desired
1 cup chopped parsley
2-3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBS Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TBS fresh Lemon Juice; or more to taste
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste; a pinch or two
8 raw almonds, chopped
Pomegranate Seeds; optional
FOR THE CHICKEN
2 skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts; pound to 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 - 1 tsp Ground Pepper
4 tsp lemon juice
1 TBS Avocado Oil
FOR THE KALE
1 bunch of Leafy Green Kale; washed and de-stemmed
3 Garlic Cloves; smashed and peeled
1 TBS Avocado Oil
1-2 tsp fresh Lemon Juice
a pinch or two of Sea Salt
For the Tabouli, put the buckwheat in a pot and cover it with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, turn heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. The buckwheat should be tender but not soggy. Rinse it under cold water in a fine mesh sieve and add to a medium sized salad bowl. Rinse the Quinoa well and then cook in the same way as the buckwheat. Rinse it under cold water and add to the bowl with the buckwheat. Mix in all of the chopped vegetables. Add the oil, vinegar and lemon juice and stir. Taste to see if you want more lemon juice or vinegar or if you need to add more olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds from a pepper mill. Stir and set aside so the flavors can blend while you prepare the rest of the meal.
For the Chicken, mix the salt, paprika, and pepper together. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the mixture. Then drizzle the lemon juice over the chicken using about 1/2 a tsp per side on each breast. Heat the oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat. When you can swirl the oil around to coat the pan add the chicken. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing into strips.
For the Kale, heat the avocado oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When the oil swirls easily in the pan add the garlic. Stir the garlic, flipping it over until it is lightly browned. Add all of the kale to the pan. Be careful because the hot oil will spit at you as the water from the kale hits it. I like to use tongs to turn the kale as it cooks so that it wilts evenly and doesn't burn. It should take only about 5 minutes to wilt down. Drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle with a pinch or two of sea salt.
This chicken noodle Pho-style soup is soy and gluten-free, and it is full of goodness for your body. The shiitake mushrooms alone have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal properties. They can help reduce inflammation and control blood sugar levels. Ginger also reduces inflammation and has been effective as a pain killer. It supports the digestive tract with its prebiotic content that causes good bacteria to grow. That’s just a start to the health benefits of this soup.
A CRAVING FOR PHO
Last weekend I had a craving for Pho, the Vietnamese soup pronounced “fuh”. I love the intensely flavored broth. It comes to the table steaming with rice noodles and blanched chicken. On the side you get a plate of flavors to add to it like Thai basil, cilantro, caramelized shallots, sliced Jalapeño or Serrano chili, lime, and a pile of mung beans. It is probably my favorite version of chicken noodle soup. Last winter when I was sick it was the only thing I ate for three days while my stomach healed.
CHANGE IS GOOD
However, there are two things I’d change: make the chicken more flavorful and add more vegetables. The chicken Pho I ordered from our local Vietnamese restaurant was perfect with minimal ingredients and bland chicken when my stomach wasn’t ready for much more. I was certain I could make some improvements with a few changes and come up with my own chicken noodle Pho-style soup.
When I was buying groceries on Monday my craving was still on my mind. I decided that I’d experiment and make my own version. We had it for dinner Tuesday night and it was pretty darn good, so good that I want to share the recipe with you.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Start by mixing Coconut Aminos, Umami (a Japanese flavoring), Fish Sauce and chili flakes in a small bowl. I use Coconut Aminos in place of soy sauce or tumari. I have a soy intolerance and the Coconut Aminos are the closest substitution I have found. I even carry a bottle with me when we go out for sushi. Put the chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. The chicken will marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, however, you could do this a few hours ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. This will give the chicken more time to soak up the flavors in the sauce. If you do put the chicken in the refrigerator take it out when you start preparing the other ingredients to bring it to room temperature.
Prepare a cup of each of the following: sliced shiitake mushrooms, chopped red pepper, chopped snow peas and grated carrots. I bought the organic carrots already grated in a bag to save time. Peel and slice a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root. Wash, de-stem and chop a handful of cilantro, about a half cup. Slice the white and light green parts of 3 scallions. Cut a lime into quarters. You can keep all of these fresh ingredients in neat little piles on your chopping board or separate them into small bowls.
WHAT ARE MIRACLE NOODLES?
Instead of the rice noodles used in traditional Pho I tried something different. A few months ago I heard about Shirataki pasta or Miracle Noodles on a podcast. I bought some and they’ve been in my pantry waiting for me to use them. These noodles are made from the soluble fiber from the root of a plant called the Konnyaku Imo. They are zero calorie, soy free, gluten free, cholesterol free and vegan. You can use rice noodles, however the Miracle Noodles are worth a try if you can find them. I used the fettuccini noodles, but they come in a variety of pasta sizes. They are easy to prepare by following the directions on the package. I actually thought they were easier than rice noodles.
GRILL THE CHICKEN
At this point you’ll want to get a pan to cook the chicken in. I prefer my small grill pan. When looking for cookware make sure it is PFOA, PTFE, lead & cadmium-free. You want to avoid the toxins in traditional non-stick cookware that can leach into the food cooked in them. Heat about a tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan and when hot drop the chicken strips into the pan searing them on all sides. Turn the heat down and let them cook until just done. Try not to over cook because they will cook a bit longer in the soup pot. Let them sit for 5 minutes off of the heat before shredding or slicing.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
I chose another short cut by using Pacific Organic Chicken Pho Soup Base. It has a nice flavor and helps make this recipe a quick week night meal. Pour the broth into a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients. I love my Le Creuset enamel pot. It is heavy but has held up over years of use on the stove top and in the oven. When the soup comes to a simmer add the ginger, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook those for 3 minutes and then add the red peppers and snow peas. You can add the noodles and chicken now as well. If you like heat sprinkle in some chili flakes.
CHICKEN NOODLE PHO-STYLE SOUP
DINNER IS READY
To serve, ladle the all the goodness into bowls and top with cilantro, green onions and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy and know that you are nourishing your body with immunity building, inflammation fighting and digestive tract support. We had plenty for the two of us and enough for my lunch the next day.
What is your favorite soup?
Thérèse Buckingham for Vitality in Focus
Yields 3 large portions
Serves 2 cups
Chicken Noodle Pho-Style Soup with Vegetables
This good for you, flavorful soup stands on its own for a satisfying meal.
7 boneless chicken breast tenders; about 3/4 pound
3 TBS Coconut Aminos
1 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS Umami
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
2 tsp coconut oil
1 quart Pacific Organic Chicken Pho Soup Base
thumb size piece of fresh ginger; sliced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms; sliced
1 cup carrots; shredded
1 cup snow peas; sliced
1 cup red pepper; chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts; sliced
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 lime; quartered
Mix the Coconut Aminos, Umami, fish sauce and chili flakes in a small bowl.
Put the chicken tenders into a glass bowl, pour the sauce over the chicken and turn to coat
Let the chicken sit while preparing the other ingredients or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Chop and slice the vegetables and keep them in separate piles.
Heat coconut oil in grill pan on medium high heat
Sear chicken tenders on all sides, turn heat down and continue to cook chicken for about 10 minutes; turning every 3 minutes.
While the chicken cooks pour the soup base in a soup pot, bring to a slow boil and then simmer.
Drop ginger, shiitake mushrooms and carrots into broth and keep it just below boiling.
Take chicken off of heat when cooked through and let it sit for 5 minutes before shredding.
Add cooked chicken to the broth. If it is still pink it will finish cooking in the broth.
Add the red pepper and snow peas to broth. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro leaves, onions and a squeeze of lime.
I am not a nutritionist. The recipes and experiences I share on my blog are based on what works for me, my own experiences with food, and what I have learned from reading about health and nutrition. If you are in need of specific nutritional advice please consult with a health professional.