Hello Spring! Lunch Trio – Roasted Carrots, Quinoa Salad, and Lemon Caper Chicken [recipe]

What an awesome week of weather we had here in California. Mid-70s with a light breeze, Spring is here! A trip to the local farmers’ market really inspired me to use some beautiful and colorful in-season produce and cook up this delightful lunch. Each dish is easy to make and I kept the number of ingredients to as few as possible to showcase their individual flavors. Definitely a great way to properly welcome Spring, wouldn’t you say?

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Balsamic Roasted Carrots with Blood Orange and Avocado
Serves 4
6 rainbow carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally about 1″ thickness. (Regular carrots are just fine)
2 Tbsp balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp olive Oil
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, to season
1 avocado, diced
2 blood orange, supremed. Reserve juice

  • Preheat Oven to 425F
  • Spread sliced carrots onto a baking pan. Parchment or foil lined for easy clean up.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, vinegar, and oil. Pour over the carrots, and give it a quick toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 25 minutes until tender and caramelized.
  • Let the carrots cool down to room temp. Just before serving, mix in the avocado slices and the blood orange segments. Spoon the remaining blood orange juice over the salad.
  • This dish is great at room temperature, but it is equally tasty after refrigeration.

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Citrus Quinoa Salad with Cucumber and Red Bell Pepper
Serves 4 as sides, 2 as main entree.

1 cup quinoa (I used tri-color ones for more color)
2 cups water or broth of your choice
half english cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp of olive oil (orange infused for enhanced flavor)
Salt and pepper, to season

  • Thoroughly rinse the quinoa.
  • Combine quinoa and water or broth in a pan, bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed and the germ rings are separated from the kernel. Fluff with a fork.
  • Let the quinoa cool to room temperature, add in diced bell pepper and cucumber.
  • Before serving, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Drizzle, toss, and serve.

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Lemon Caper Chicken
3-4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts. Slice thick breasts in half for a thinner and smaller portion.
1 12oz bottle of your favorite lemon dressing/marinade (I used this)
2 Tbsp Capers and juice
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to season

  • In a skillet, brown both sides of chicken with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Note that we’re not trying to cook through the chicken in this step, simply brown both sides and remove from pan.
  • Saute onion in the same pan until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in capers and a couple tablespoon of the caper juice to stir up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour the bottle of marinade into the pan with onion and caper, place the chicken back into the pan. Cover and let simmer, about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve and spoon the sauce over rice, couscous, or quinoa. If you like a thicker sauce, remove the chicken first and then reduce by half.

Notes: You can easily make your own lemon marinade with some juice of lemon, olive oil, mustard, champagne vinegar, and herbs. I used chicken breasts because I had some on hand, but my usual preferred choice of protein would be skinless boneless chicken thigh, as chicken breasts tend to be drier and tougher, especially overcooked ones.

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One thought on “Hello Spring! Lunch Trio – Roasted Carrots, Quinoa Salad, and Lemon Caper Chicken [recipe]

  1. Lovely dishes and pics! Definitely going to try ’em out! And those rainbow carrots always look so tempting at the farmers’ market. Now I’ll have to pick up a bunch!

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