Cooking for Two: Spicy Thai chicken kebabs and quinoa salad with cumin lime dressing (recipe) | VailDaily.com

Cooking for Two: Spicy Thai chicken kebabs and quinoa salad with cumin lime dressing (recipe)

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Cooking for Two

the gorgeous palate of farm-fresh vegetables available at harvest time encourages me to create meals in which vegetables are the stars of the show and meat, if present at all, plays a secondary role.

Today's dinner is a prime example. I've used two chicken breast halves to create four kebabs. I was able to do this because I punched up the chicken with a spicy Thai marinade and used a large and colorful variety of vegetables. This marinade would also be wonderful for creating kebabs using a firm white fish, shrimp or scallops — but marinate the seafood for only 30 minutes — or even tofu or beef.

By the way, this column has a new name. I'll still be cooking from scratch, but I'm going to feature recipes for two people.

Quite honestly, I'm tired of leftovers. Cooking for two means a couple can enjoy this meal, or a single person will have enough for lunch tomorrow — instead of endless leftovers that end up in freezer purgatory.

On the other hand, this recipe could also feed a crowd at your next cookout. Adjust the amounts for the marinade and quinoa salad to suit the number of guests. The kebabs and salad can be made one day ahead, so you can enjoy your guests. Cook the kebabs once the guests arrive.

Spicy Thai chicken kebabs and quinoa salad with cumin-lime dressing

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Chicken kebabs

4 bamboo kebab skewers that have been soaked in water to prevent burning

12 chunks of marinated chicken (see recipe below)

½ each; red and yellow bell pepper

1 small onion, red or sweet white

1 small zucchini

10 cherry tomatoes

Marinade for meat

1 tablespoon red curry paste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

½ teaspoon turmeric

Quinoa salad

1 cup raw quinoa

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons lime juice

¼ neutral oil such as sunflower, canola, grapeseed

2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup diced cucumber

1 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Combine marinade ingredients, and marinate two chicken breast halves (cut into 12 pieces each) for 1 hour or overnight.

While the chicken marinates, make the quinoa salad: Bring to a boil 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. Once it has reached a boil, turn down to a simmer and let it cook until the water has evaporated and the quinoa is tender. Put the quinoa in a bowl, and refrigerate to cool it down.

Combine cumin, lime juice, oil, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and salt and pour over the chilled quinoa. Toss with cucumber, carrot and parsley or cilantro. Return the salad to the fridge, and let the flavors combine while you assemble your chicken kebabs.

Assemble your kebabs: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, if using an oven instead of a grill. Create your kebabs by alternating ingredients. Use any variety of veggies that catch your eye at the grocer's or farmers market. Kebabs are a wonderful opportunity to play with new flavor combinations.

Cook the kebabs: Ideally, cook the kebabs over a grill to get that wonderful charred flavor, or cook in an oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once. Serve the kebabs with the quinoa salad.

cookbook recommendation

Since we're focused on eating healthy and delicious meals, I'm going to give you two cookbooks to investigate:

• "Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen," by Heidi Swanson — This is a great place to start if you want to cook more vegetable-based meals but still crave comfort food. Earthy flavors and hearty soups will expand your horizons and you won't miss meat. Muesli, multi-grain pancakes, white bean spread with toasted garlic pita chips, summer linguine, weeknight curry, wild rice casserole and buttermilk cake with plums are some of the recipes.

• "The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory and Mental Clarity," by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson — Meals that are good for your brain and taste good, too, like Mediterranean roast chicken, Thai steak salad and wild salmon kebabs with Asian pesto. Finish your meal with slow-roasted peaches or chocolate-cherry walnut truffles.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson writes food and religion columns and is the author of 10 books. You can find her at http://www.suzanneelizabeths.com.