roasted chicken, crispy quinoa and heirloom tomatoes with lemon-basil pesto

This summery dish features bright heirloom tomatoes and a tangy lemon-basil pesto, paired with chewy quinoa that is lightly fried in oil. It is delicious and hearty and could be served fully vegetarian without chicken for a light lunch or main course. Ideally wait for the luscious August tomatoes at end of summer to make this dish. I would recommend pairing this dish with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Cabernet Franc, which is a more vegetal red wine that can stand up to the strong, herbal notes of the pesto.

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 whole, medium-sized)

  • Fresh garlic (1 tablespoon, minced)

  • Fresh basil (2 cups of leaves, removed from stems)

  • Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup, shredded)

  • Pine nuts (1/4 cup)

  • Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)

  • Olive oil (1/4 cup for pesto plus 2 tablespoons for quinoa)

  • Sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Heirloom tomatoes (2 or 3, cut into large slices)

  • Red quinoa (1 cup, dry)

  • Ricotta cheese (1/2 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Unwrap the chicken breasts and place on the sheet.

  3. Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from the oven and set the chicken aside on a cutting board to cool.

  4. While the chicken is baking, you can prepare the pesto. In a small food processor, blend the garlic, basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt until smooth. Taste to check for seasoning and adjust by adding more salt or lemon juice as needed. If the pesto is too thick, thin it out with water or additional olive oil until you reach your desired texture. Set aside.

  5. In a large, deep skillet, add 1 and 1/2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 cup of dry red quinoa. Heat over medium heat uncovered until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa starts to get crispy and dry. Watch carefully to ensure it doesn't burn and stir regularly throughout cooking. Taste at about 6 minutes for doneness; the quinoa should be chewy but not hard to eat. Remove from heat and set aside. If the quinoa needs additional salt, season at this time.

  6. To plate, layer the tomato pieces with spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and pesto. Top with the sliced roasted chicken and crispy quinoa and serve.