I bit off more than I could chew with this one. I have never, ever, ever made artichokes and barely ever eaten them. I have only made quinoa once in my life, years ago, and it was a big old failure. Somehow, I decided that I could pull this off easily with just a little bit of time. I’m not sure why.
I wanted to do the whole dish with fresh produce, because that’s always my natural tendency. Apricots are out of season, so I unfortunately couldn’t find any. I ended up getting both dried apricots and apricot preserves, without knowing what I would prepare with them.
I bought fresh artichokes, figuring I could figure out what the heck to do with them once I got home. There were lots of artichoke resources on the internet, but of course I didn’t follow any of the directions and went out on my own. Big mistake. OMG, artichokes, you have beaten me. You tasted OK, but to me, you’re SO not worth the effort. And what’s up with all that silky stuff inside you? Not fun.
On to the quinoa. Fortunately, there was a large variety of quinoa in my supermarket. Golden. Red. Mixed with rice. Lots of choices. I was very tempted to get a blend, but the boy told me not to, because “that goes against the integrity of Battle Yum”. HA! Who made him the battlemeister? But I went with it. I picked the red quinoa because the package said it was fancier or something ridiculous like that.
We LOVE blue cheese in my house, so I thought at least I’d be safe with this ingredient. I put all of the ingredients on one plate and…completely drew a blank. They intimidated me. They laughed at me. I said to myself: This is Battle YUM! It’s fun! Ingredients shouldn’t scare me! I will beat this! I figured I’d try to just make something I love with all of them: risotto. Grains and cheese: it made sense. Can’t be bad, can it?
I started cooking the quinoa like risotto and immediately knew this wasn’t going to be great. I was cursing the boy and wishing I had purchased the quinoa mixed with rice. I was tempted many times to throw in some arborio. But my integrity and I plodded on. I gradually added warmed chicken stock. Yeah, the gradual thing doesn’t really matter if you’re not using arborio, but I was making risotto, after all, and had to follow the process. I added the blue cheese and parmesan to boot. I chopped up some of the dried apricots and threw that in as well.
The blue parmesan crisp? Completely unnecessary. Blue cheese is the favorite part of this dish in my house, so I just wanted to use more of it in something.
I got more than just the heart of the artichoke when trying to prepare it. Too much of the tough leaves. I chopped it all up and tried sauteeing them in butter and lemon. The artichoke was still snickering at me. I sprinkled the artichoke on top of a bowl of the quinoa and declared it a finished dish.
The kids were not home when I made this dish, so they did not get the chance to taste it. My bet is that they would have avoided it like the plague, only tasting the parmesan chip. It actually was pretty good!! And the husband ate the whole thing. It’s just not something I’d make again. There are a bazillion things I’d tweak here to make it a MUCH better dish, and I’ve certainly learned some lessons:
- I can’t wing everything.
- Integrity, schmintegrity. Add whatever you want.
- Artichokes are just plain EVIL. ‘Nuff said.
Red Quinoa Risotto with Apricot-Glazed Chicken and a Blue Parmesan Crisp
- 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
- 2 Tbsp white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2 fresh artichokes
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp blue cheese
- Crinkle up some aluminum foil and put inside mini-muffin cups. Spray with some olive oil cooking spray. Combine the cheeses for the parmesan crisp. Sprinkle them in a thin layer in the bottom of the muffin cups. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and starts to dry up. Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a saucepan, heat the apricot preserves with the soy sauce. Liquid should reduce slightly. Let cool.
- In another saucepan, heat the quinoa in the white wine. Add the warmed chicken stock gradually until quinoa is fully cooked.
- Before all of the chicken stock is integrated, chop apricots into small pieces and add to pot. Apricot pieces will soften and plump up slightly in the liquid.
- Stir in the cheeses and heat through.
- Coat the chicken breasts with the apricot preserve liquid and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
- Prepare artichokes properly to remove the outer leaves and stem. Chop up the hearts into smallish pieces and sautee in olive oil. Add lemon juice and continue to heat through.
- Sprinkle the sauteed artichoke and some additional shredded parmesan cheese on top of the quinoa. Add a parmesan crisp and serve with chicken.