Olive oil-fried chicken with heirloom tomatoes + pesto quinoa

Olive oil-fried chicken with heirloom tomatoes + pesto quinoa

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.

Olive oil-fried chicken with heirloom tomatoes + pesto quinoa

Serves two.

Ingredients: 

  • 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
  • salt
  • pepper

How to:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Chop up heirloom tomatoes into big chunks.
  5. 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.

Olive oil-fried chicken with heirloom tomatoes + pesto quinoa

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