Quinoa Pilaf with Fennel and Chicken

Quinoa Pilaf with fennel

The quinoa and fennel are the star of this meal, the chicken could easily be substituted for fish, or if you are a vegetarian then I’d scatter flaked almonds over the pilaf and serve with green beans.

Ingredients – serves 2
For the pilaf
• ½ tblsp vegetable oil
• ½ tsp cumin
• ½ tsp curry powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp smokey paprika
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp mixed herbs
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 strips lemon skin (use a potato peeler)
• 100g quinoa
• 375ml water or stock
• 50 to 100g baby spinach
• Handful chopped fresh dill
• Salt and pepper to taste
For the fennel
• 1 tblsp vegetable oil
• 2 fennel bulbs
• 2 cloves garlic chopped
• 1 onion chopped
• Juice 1 lemon
• 2 tblsp water
• Salt and pepper to taste
2 Chicken breasts

Instructions
1. Place chicken breasts in an oven 180c and cook for 25mins
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan and fry off all the spices for the pilaf, once you have released the aromas add the lemon rind and quinoa and stir well to ensure all the grains are coated
3. Add the stock, stir and simmer for about 15 minutes, the grains should be tender and cooked through, and the water pretty much evaporated.
4. Slice the fennel into wedges, add the oil to a large frying pan and cook the fennel for about 8 – 10 minutes on a low to medium heat, they should be soft and just turning a light brown.
5. Add the onion and garlic and cook on medium/high for another 2-3 minutes. Add the water and lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes until the liquid is almost reduced (you want about 2 tblsp of juice to spoon over when serving.
6. Check the seasoning on the quinoa, remove the bay leaf, and stir through the spinach and dill, it will wilt pretty quickly
7. The chicken should now be cooked.
8. To serve, pile the quinoa on 2 plates, and then the fennel on the top of the quinoa with the juices drizzled over, if you are serving with chicken or fish serve that on the side. With the reserved fennel fronds scattered over.

I am guilty of thinking that I didn’t like fennel when I had never actually tasted it. I was told it tasted of aniseed and as I don’t like aniseed I never tried it. It may well taste of aniseed, but not very much! If you cook it nice and slowly like we’ve done here it has a lovely texture and aroma, and reminds me very much of summer.

The quinoa and fennel could also be mixed together and served at room temperature as part of a larger meal such as a picnic or barbecue.

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