I love a challenge in the kitchen.
Give me an almost empty fridge and a handful of things in the cupboard and challenge me to cook a meal – I’ll heartily accept. I love the feeling of making something wonderful from seemingly nothing, because unless there literally is nothing in your fridge, with a little imagination you can cook up a great meal from whats in the fridge and feel damn proud doing it.
As a child I would bury my face in the fridge looking for something to eat then yell to mum upstairs in the loudest voice (and rather dramatically) that there was nothing to eat in the fridge. Now, bear in mind this was an Italian family fridge, so it was always bursting with great food. It would frustrate her to no end and she would come down the stairs just before dinner time, open the fridge and in 30 minutes lay out a multi course meal of the tastiest food you could imagine. She seemed like a food wizard, and I was always in awe.
Now, this skill didn’t always come naturally and when I moved to Sydney from Perth away from my family, I would still stare into my fridge and wonder what the hell I was going to have for dinner. But a few years of experimentation later and trusting my instincts with regard to flavour matching, and I finally feel I might actually equal my mother in a kitchen fridge challenge – perhaps I should challenge her to a cook off next time I’m in Perth… she’ll probably win.
Recently I was sent a care package of goodies from Lilydale Free Range Chicken which included chicken (of course) some goodies from Salts Meats Cheese and lovely fresh produce. It came with a challenge to create a tasty weeknight meal – challenge accepted and my turn to try and become a food wizard like my mother.
Here is my weeknight chicken dish with elements from the care package and a few things I had in the fridge – Harissa Chicken with Herbed Quinoa.
Harissa Chicken with Herbed Quinoa
1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 lilydale freerange chicken breasts
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch continental parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, shaved and finely diced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons greek yoghurt, to serve
In a bowl combine harissa, paprika, lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper and mix till well combined. Add chicken breasts to the marinade and ensure it is coated with the marinade. Then leave in the fridge for 20 minutes turning the chicken over after 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa by placing it and the water in a saucepan over medium high heat until it comes to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until quinoa is tender. Then remove from heat, drain water and leave to cool.
Once cool, add parsley, coriander, fennel and spring onion to the quinoa and stir well. In a small bowl mix olive oil, lemon, paprika, cumin and caster sugar till well combined and then stir through the quinoa. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Heat a frypan (or grill) over medium heat then add marinated chicken breasts and cook for 7 to 8 minutes each side until cooked through. Slice and serve with herbed quinoa and a tablespoon of yoghurt on each plate.
Chew Town would like to thank Lilydale Free Range Chicken for providing the care package of Lilydale and Salt Meats Cheese products for the development of this recipe.