Every summer, I splurge at least once on a pound of heirloom tomatoes. A little pricey, a little mysterious with their knobs and purple-y hues, but in my mind, far more appealing than shining mountains of pluots and plums.
If you “hate tomatoes,” it’s because you’ve never had an heirloom, juicy, sweet, and perfect.
I love them simple and straightforward with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Here, I’ve gone a little more fancy and paired them with olive-oil fried chicken and a homemade pesto quinoa. All in one little bowl, the best of summer: perfect tomatoes and fresh herbs (with a little parm + pine nuts thrown on).
As for the pesto quinoa, I’d be lying if I told you I never borrowed any ideas from Trader Joe’s. I was inspired by their pesto quinoa in making my own. This one’s a bit “deconstructed,” as I left the cheese and nuts out as garnish. So, if you happen to be vegan, pair this with the tomatoes and skip the chicken. If you want to be dairy-free, leave off the cheese. If you want to be nut-free, skip the pine nuts. You have options.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 small heirloom tomatoes, or 1 large
- 3 + 6 tablespoons olive oil (separated)
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 small bunch basil
- 1 small bunch parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan (go for the good stuff- parmigiano reggiano- and grate it yourself)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 250 F. Lay pine nuts flat on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes. Make sure they don’t burn! Remove as soon as they turn golden and begin to smell toasty. They’ll continue to cook on the baking sheet.
- Then, prepare your chicken. Heat up 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Season chicken thighs heavily with salt and pepper. Fry each side in olive oil over high heat for 2 minutes, until browned. Cover pan, turn heat to medium-low and cook for additional 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Should have a golden-brown crust, and be irresistibly crispy. Remove from heat.
- Next, make the pesto quinoa. Cook the quinoa over the stove according to the package directions. Remove from heat and put into a blender or food processor. Add additional 6 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, basil, and lemon juice. Peel and smash garlic cloves and throw those in too. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and blend, until blended but not soupy. Taste and add additional salt as needed. Remove from blender.
- Chop up heirloom tomatoes into big chunks.
- Now assemble your bowls: Cut chicken breasts into slices or large pieces, and place in bowls with tomatoes and a big dollop of pesto quinoa. Add a bit of additional salt and pepper to tomatoes. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan.