November 3, 2013

Quinoa and Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Maple Dijon Sauce

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Quinoa, quinoa – everyone’s talking about quinoa these days! Sure – this little seed is a nutritional powerhouse, a complete protein and gluten free. But can I be totally honest? I’ve tried it out on the family as a simple side dish and it was not well received. A lot of wrinkled noses and scattering of quinoa around the plates. Determined to give it another try, I came up with a sneaky idea that turned out even better than expected: using cooked quinoa (ShopRite’s Tri Color in this case) and some finely chopped pecans to crust chicken breasts. Even though there was a little more splattering on the stove, the quinoa crisped up as well as panko breadcrumbs – my usual standard for this family-favorite dish. The pecans gave it great flavor and texture, and tricked your mouth into thinking the quinoa coating was all nuts. Now we’re all nuts for quinoa!

SUE Quinoa Pecan Chicken Thumbnail

Quinoa and Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Maple Dijon Sauce

Serves 4


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 eggs
½ cup flour
6 cups cooked and cooled ShopRite Tri Color or regular 100% Whole Grain Quinoa (from 12-oz package; directions below)
½ cup  finely chopped pecans
4-6 tablespoons ShopRite Vegetable Oil


Heat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Trim chicken breasts of any excess fat, pull off the tenderloin piece (it’s probably already loose), and slice the breasts in half lengthwise (creating 2 thinner breasts from each one). Season all the chicken pieces with the 2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Set out 3 large plates, pie plates or small casserole dishes for the coating assembly line. Add the flour to one plate. Crack the eggs into another and beat with a small whisk or fork. In the third (and largest) dish mix together the quinoa and pecans.

SUE Quinoa Chicken coating

Take a chicken breast piece and coat each side in flour. Shake off the excess and then dip each side in the egg. Then transfer it to the quinoa/pecan plate and use your hands to press the coating onto the chicken. Set aside to another plate or piece of parchment paper and repeat with remaining chicken pieces. (Add another egg if necessary to complete the coating process.)

In a cast iron or other heavy-duty frying pan over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. (Get a splatter guard ready if you have one; some of the wet quinoa seeds might go flying.) Gently slide a few of the chicken pieces into the hot pan and cook 3-4 minutes or until coating is brown but not burned. Carefully turn the chicken pieces and cook another 3-4 minutes to brown the other side.

SUE Quinoa Chicken fry

Transfer the chicken to paper towel-lined baking sheet. Wipe out pan with paper towel (to prevent loose crust pieces from burning) and add 2 more tablespoons vegetable oil. Repeat until all chicken pieces have been browned. Slide out paper towels blotter from under chicken and discard. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with Maple Dijon sauce, if desired.

SUE Quiona Chicken cut

Maple Dijon Sauce

¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup pure maple syrup, preferably dark or B grade

Stir together and microwave for 30 seconds.

Cooked Quinoa

Pour 12 oz. package of quinoa into a large strainer (or bowl) and rinse, swishing around with your hand. Add rinsed/drained quinoa, 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (covered) for another 5 -10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff w/a fork.  (Allow quinoa to cool for this recipe.) You should have about 7 cups of cooked quinoa; any remaining quinoa can be frozen in a plastic bag.

Blog post and recipe by Sue Walter of

IMPORTANT NOTICE: As a POTLUCK blogger, I received ShopRite Tri Color Quinoa for free.