Chicken Thighs Make a Quick Meal so Pretty!

Chicken / July 9, 2016

There are days, yes several of them, when cooking does not light my wick, or butter my bread, or launch my rocket. Sometimes it just wears me out. So if it’s one of those RARE, RARE evenings when quick is the first goal on my list, I reach for chicken thighs.

Now you did NOT hear me say that I get tired of making things pretty. In fact, that is really what makes the whole process infinitely worthwhile! I love seeing beautiful food and serving it to the people I love.

So as you gaze at these beautiful photos and think about how yummy this would be, keep in mind it was FAST. And fast is always FABULOUS when you’re too tired to do ANYTHING.

Nope. There’s no skin on these babies. That lovely sear is from the cranberry balsamic vinegar caramelizing when properly seared. Makes for a perfect bite along with the creamy goat cheese, the crisp veggies and the guilt free nuttiness of quinoa. There is a bit of guilt in this, (although olive oil is GOOD FOR YOU…) from the lemon rosemary vinaigrette, but you can adjust the amount of olive oil.

Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Garden Quinoa Salad With a Lemon Rosemary Vinaigrette

Serves 4



4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 T sweet balsamic such as cranberry
2 T olive oil plus 2 T extra for the pan
Salt and pepper

Quinoa Salad:

2 C of low sodium chicken broth
1 C of quinoa
2 medium carrots, peeled into strips
2 scallions, cut on the diagonal
½ small zucchini chopped
3 large radishes, sliced thinly
6-7 cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 T lemon juice
2 T rice wine vinegar
¼ C fine virgin olive oil
2 t fresh chopped rosemary
1 T white sugar
¼ t kosher salt for water and then salt and pepper to taste
3 ounces goat cheese
2 T fresh basil for the quinoa and some extra for garnish


  • Cut the radishes into very thin slices. Using a vegetable peeler cut the carrots lengthwise into thin and long strips. Rough chop the scallions on the diagonal, cut the zucchini in small pieces. Place these items in ice water to sit in fridge until use. It will make them very crisp and curly. (Even though you’ll be putting them into the hot quinoa this is a good method to achieve the barely crunchy tenderness of the vegetables with the rest of the quite soft food.) Cut the tomatoes in half and save. Don’t refrigerate the tomatoes or add to the ice water bowl.
  • To make dressing combine the olive oil, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, rosemary, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk vigorously to combine. Set aside.
  • When you’ve brought the chicken to room temperature, brush each thigh generously with oil and then the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bring the stock to boil in a large sauce pan. Add a sprinkle of salt to the pan. You can taste it later and add more salt if needed. Add the quinoa when water is boiling. Cover pan, reduce heat to very low, cook for 20 minutes.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, first, drain the vegetables of the cold water and make sure all water is gone. Add the tomatoes to these vegetables, and set aside. Secondly, heat a large saute pan and then add the 2 T oil. When shimmering, add the meat, cooking by searing on each side until done. Depending upon your pan it should only be about 3-4 minutes per side. Don’t move the meat around. You want a nice caramelization on each side. When cooked, remove and put on a plate covered with foil.
  • When the quinoa is done, add in the vegetables and about 2 T chopped basil and stir. Taste for seasoning needs. Let sit in the pan for a minute or two, just to let the carrots wilt a tiny bit.
  • To plate, serve up a portion of the garden quinoa mixture, dot it with some of the goat cheese, place a thigh on top and drizzle generously with the lemon and rosemary vinaigrette. Garnish with extra basil. SERVE!

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