Monday, January 18, 2010

"Chicken" Marsala and Nutty Quinoa

In a strong yet brief moment of inspiration and short-lived deficit of queasiness today, I took the opportunity to throw together dinner. I have a feeling that my brisk walk today (we finally had a break in this frigid weather: a sunny, bright day) did a lot to lift my spirits and chase away the preggo blues.

I made something I loved from my forever-ago bird-eating days: chicken marsala (click on the photo to zoom in). My version features baby bellas, shallots, and mixed bell peppers, but it's a very flexible recipe. I also made a quick quinoa pilaf. Some might argue that these flavors don't meld well, and actually, I would normally agree, but for some reason they worked well together. Plus I served them with a salad with mustard-tarragon salad dressing (by Organicville).

Dina's "Chicken" Marsala

There's something homey and comforting about marsala sauce. If you don't have soy creamer, unsweetened soy milk will work well as a substitute. Less creamy but still yummy.
  • olive oil or oil spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots or 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 10-oz package sliced mushrooms (baby portobellas or button)
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers (they're not a traditional ingredient, but they are tasty IMO, and do boost fiber and antioxidant content. Use whatever veggies you like.)
  • 2 packages Light Life Chick'n Style Smart Strips (you can also use 2 lbs sliced seitan, 4 defrosted Morningstar Farms Grillers Chik'n, 1 package of defrosted Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chik'n Strips, OR 1 package defrosted May Wah chicken substitute. Just don't use pre-breaded veggie chicken.)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup organic soy creamer (unflavored)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp powdered sage
  • Salt & pepper to taste
First, keep the last few ingredients out on the counter, because you might want to change the amount of wine, creamer, lemon, etc. to taste. The amounts here are mere suggestions (plus I didn't measure; I'm guestimating by memory).

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped shallots or onions, and cook for about 3 minutes or until translucent. Next add mushrooms, and cook for about 8 minutes, until most of the moisture is expelled from the mushrooms. Then add the peppers, and saute until the peppers start to soften. Saute for another minute or two, and transfer the veggies to a bowl.

Dredge/toss the veggie "chicken" in the flour until well-coated.

Return skillet to stove and melt the margarine with the olive oil. Add the "chicken" and fry until golden brown on all sides. You may need to do this in two batches. Remove the "chicken" from the pan (add to the veggies if room in the bowl, to avoid having to wash an extra plate). The skillet should have tiny bits of floury "chicken" -- leave them in the pan.

Return skillet to stove and pour in the broth, marsala wine, creamer, lemon juice, and sage. Let simmer for about 2-3 minutes (it should thicken a bit). Then, add back the "chicken" and veggies and coat with sauce. Let the sauce boil gently for about 4 minutes; it will thicken nicely. Taste, and adjust by adding salt and pepper, and more lemon juice, creamer, and/or marsala.

Easy Quinoa Pilaf

Since the "chicken" recipe has quite a bit of fat, this oil-free recipe goes quite nicely.
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water or vegetable broth (I used a little of each)
  • 1/2 cup sliced and blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • pinch cinnamon
Rinse quinoa well by running plenty of water through a sieve filled with the grain. Combine quinoa and water/broth in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.

Meanwhile, toast almonds in a dry pan or in the toaster oven. Keep a close watch so they don't burn.

When quinoa begins to boil, add almonds, cranberries, and cinnamon and give it a stir. Turn heat to low and cover, cooking for about 1o minutes or until all water is absorbed.

No comments: