Chosen Bites: Quinoa takes over as latest super food

Spice up a regular chicken dish with this ancient grain which is easy to cook and is even kosher for Passover.

Quinoa 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Quinoa 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Herbed Roasted Chicken with Quinoa-Mushroom Pilaf
Sometimes you just need a really good piece of chicken. The fresh herbs and citrus bring out the best in chicken. I love the aroma that this chicken adds to the house when it is roasting. It is perfect for Shabbat dinner as well as a weekday meal. Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is relatively new to the American table. It is an ancient grain that is hailed as a super food. It is a complete protein, containing all of the eight essential amino acids. It is  kosher for Passover and easy to cook. It is very versatile as it picks up the flavors of vinaigrettes, herbs or whatever it is paired with. Quinoa can also be made several days in advance of serving. Quinoa can be found in health food stores and most grocery stores. The quinoa pilaf is perfect for Passover or anytime.
2 whole chickens about 4 pounds each½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemaryJuice and zest of 1 lemonJuice and zest of 1 orange¼ cup extra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper
2 cups quinoa1 shallot-peeled and diced2 cups fresh mushrooms-sliced (use Shiitake, Cremini, button or your favorite)2 tablespoons lemon juice½ cup pine-nuts-toastedExtra Virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 450. Rinse the chickens thoroughly. Pat dry and place on a roasting rack.  Place all the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.
2. Use your hands to thoroughly rub the chickens inside the cavity and out with the herb mixture. Tuck the wings under the body of the chicken and tie the legs together if you wish (this will help keep the shape a little nicer). Roast the chickens for 20 minutes at high heat. Turn down the oven temperature to 325 and slow roast until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 160, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cover the chickens loosely with foil. Allow the chickens to rest before carving.
3. To carve the chickens: Cut down the center along the breast bone on both sides. Remove the breast bone. Pull the chicken apart slightly to expose the back bone. Cut along both sides of the back bone and remove it. Cut the birds into quarters and place a serving platter.
4. Rinse the quinoa under water for several minutes, rubbing the grains together to remove the slightly “soapy” film that the plant naturally contains. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan and add 3 ½ cups of water. Cook the quinoa over medium heat until it is tender (about 20 minutes).  Lightly drizzle with Extra Virgin olive oil.
5. Sauté the shallot and mushroom until lightly browned. Add to the quinoa with remaining ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.