I recently invested in a cool new kitchen tool – a rice cooker. I’ve been making rice for decades, and I consider myself a good cook, but rice is usually hit-and-miss with me. As we eat a fair amount of rice, it seemed like a good investment. As it turns out, the rice cooker does a lot more than cook rice. In fact, I played with my rice cooker for two weeks before I actually tried to cook rice in it!
One of the things that my rice cooker does REALLY WELL is Quinoa. I love Quinoa – it’s healthy, it’s got nice texture, a great nutty flavor and you can do sooooo much with it. When I cook it on the stovetop, it frequenly comes out gummy. However, in the rice cooker (use the white rice setting) it turns out fluffy and light and perfect. The only downside to making Quinoa in my rice cooker is that you need to make at least 2 cups. That is lots of Quinoa. So here’s a great recipe to use up some of your leftover cold Quinoa. This salad is healthy and delicious.
CHICKEN AND QUINOA SPINACH SALAD
1/2 bag of prewashed spinach (or get 1 bunch and wash it really, really well)
1 pear, cored and sliced
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. crumbled bleu cheese
1 c. prepared Quinoa, chilled
4 green onions, sliced lengthwise, then crosswise in 1/2″ pieces.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (steamed in your rice cooker)
2 T olive oil
1 T cider vinegar
1 T Orange juice
1 small dollop of honey (let’s call it 1/2 t.)
Another great use for the rice cooker is steaming – one of my new fave easy meals is to make brown basmati rice in the bottom of the rice cooker while simultaneously steaming salmon filets in Teriyaki sauce in the steamer basket. Wow. More on that later.
Back to this recipe – let’s steam the chicken. Put water, 1 garlic clove and 2 bay leaves in the bottom pot of your rice cooker. Then put the steamer tray in the top. Put the boneless skinless chicken breasts in the steamer tray, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and steam for 18-20 minutes (or however long your rice cooker booklet says). Prewashed spinach is one of those amazing cheats that I don’t feel at all bad about using. Toss the Spinach, Quinoa, bleu cheese, pear slices, green onions and cranberries together in a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss the dressing with the salad greens. Put 1/2 the salad on each of 2 dinner plantes. Top each salad with one of the sliced cooked chicken breasts. Sprinkle with a bit more of the crumbled bleu cheese. Yum-o-licious.