Quinoa Fried Rice Recipe

Crispy Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice has got your takeout cravings covered, but healthier! | themillennialmenu.com

If I’m going to take a few unplanned months away from sharing recipes, I better have a great one to kick off coming back to blogging, and this recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice is it. Who doesn’t love fried rice? It’s salty and buttery all at once, and always satisfies that takeout craving. Sometimes, though, I want to eat healthier (well, slightly healthier) or have a more filling meal, and substituting quinoa for the rice in this recipe gets the job done.

In terms of making this recipe more filling for work lunches, I always add crispy fried chicken, tossed in a bit of extra sesame oil at the end of cooking, to get me through an afternoon of teaching. You can easily do this as vegetarian dish without the chicken, add an extra scrambled egg or two, or add tofu. Or, simply enjoy as is.

One other thing I love about this meal is that it’s a great recipe to make during the same week you try out my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, since you’ve already got over half of what you need to make those once you’ve grocery shopped for this recipe! The flavors are definitely distinctly different, still, so it’s a great way to save money on groceries and using up your ingredients while still varying up what you eat.

Quinoa seems to really multiply and I always end up with a mountain of it - which is exactly what you want when you’re adding awesome flavors like sautéed onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh chopped scallions, and more. This is a great recipe to cook for a crowd and has a relatively inexpensive base in the quinoa. Cheap, tasty, health(ier)…add this to your calendar for dinner next week!



Quinoa Fried Rice

Makes 4-6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Soy sauce: Beef & Broccoli // Chicken, carrots, soy sauce, and quinoa: Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: Instant Pot: High, 1 minutes NPR 5 minutes plus 15 minutes "frying" the quinoa // Stove top: 30 minutes
Total Time: Depending on cooking method, 30-45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • salt & pepper, to taste

  • 2 scallions, chopped

  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil + 2 more if making crispy chicken strips

  • Optional: 2 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out chicken or add tofu.
Dairy-free Friendly
Gluten Free As long as you confirm all of your ingredients are gluten free, this recipe is gluten-free friendly. Double check your soy sauce.
Vegan: Use additional oil as needed rather than butter, and leave out the eggs.

Directions

MAKE THE QUINOA & CHICKEN
1. To make the quinoa:

On the stovetop: turn one burner on high. Add 2 cups of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1 cup dry quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit for 15 minutes. Read more about how to cook quinoa 

In the Instant Pot: Add 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 1 minute. Yep, 1 minute. NPR for 10 minutes, then QPR. Read about why you need an Instant Pot in general here. While that's happening...


2. Slice your 2 chicken breasts into thin strips. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sliced chicken breast and let cook until browned. Use a spatula to ensure all sides are browned. Cooking should take 5-10 minutes.
3. When the chicken is almost done, add 2 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir to coat to add extra flavor to the strips.

PREP THE MIX-INs
4.
Dice 1 medium onion, 2 medium carrots, and 4 cloves minced garlic and add them to a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.
5. Sautè the veggies until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and stir (yes, I said 4. Don’t ask, just do it)
7. Add some water (less than 1/4 cup) to a microwave-safe bowl, add the 1/2 cup frozen peas and microwave on 30 seconds to soften them. Then, add the peas to the frying pan.

FRY IT!
6. Once the quinoa is ready, add the cooked quinoa to the pan with all the veggies and stir.
7. Add 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir. These amounts are flexible and dependent on personal preferences! Add more or less if you like.
8. Add your cooked chicken strips to the pan. Continue to stir, adding more butter, sesame oil, or soy sauce as desired.
9. Meanwhile, quickly scramble two eggs in separate pan. I’ve found scrambling it all together makes the quinoa weird and congealed. Definitely scramble your eggs separately. Add these to the quinoa pan and mix to incorporate.
9. Add salt & pepper and chopped scallions to taste.

Yum.

quinoa-fried-rice-close-up

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

LUNCH TOMORROW - I’ve done this for meal prep for lunches for the week and it lasts very well! Be sure to eat within 5 days if you do add chicken.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra carrots, chicken, soy sauce, and quinoa, you’re halfway to my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce! Work on that bottle of soy sauce with my Beef & Broccoli recipe. Use up the rest of that bag of frozen peas in my favorite comfort meal: Chicken Pot Pie.


Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

This beautiful, fresh chicken pot pie is a simple recipe that is freezer-friendly and great for lunches at work! | themillennialmenu.com

I've been on a puff pastry kick since posting my 3-Ingredient Baked Brie last week, indulging in this comforting Chicken Pot Pie recipe. Chicken Pot Pie is my ultimate comfort food, right after Kraft Mac & Cheese (I know, I know...every foodie has their vice.) I had chicken pot pie all week for lunch this past week with a nice salad and felt so satisfied. I've definitely found a new Sunday meal prep lunch to add into my work lunch rotation. This recipe just tastes like comfort food should taste, with the buttery, flaky puff-pastry crust, the creamy, veggie-stuffed filling, and the hint of thyme. 

Chicken pot pie sounds like an impressive dish to me, but it's actually much easier than I would have thought to make. Part of the secret comes from the puff-pastry crust, which is buttery and delicious and definitely not the 3-hour chore that making your own crust from scratch would be. Once you do the prep of simmering all of the veggies and chicken together to make your filling, it's really a set it and forget it dish once it's in the oven. About 30 minutes later, you're opening the oven door to a beautiful, golden-brown crust and bubbling chicken and veggie goodness.

Another huge perk of this recipe is it's freezer-friendly. Last week, I made a double batch and froze a few portions for my shortened work week this week (hello, vacation!) and have been enjoying chicken pot pie again this week for lunch. Personally, I followed the recipe below through the end and then froze the fully cooked pot pie so when it defrosted, it was ready to take with me for lunch. You could also stop after step 12 and wait to finish of baking your pot pie until you defrost it later. In this case, add at least 20 minutes for cooking time. Either way, I highly recommend you make a double batch, because this recipe is going to leave you wanting more.



Chicken Pot Pie

Makes ~5 lunch servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Puff pastry: 3-ingredient baked brie or mini apple pies //  Frozen peas: Quinoa Fried Rice
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (see Grocery Guide for more info)
  • 1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much meat you want in your pot pie/how deep you want your pie filling to be)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium-sized Russet potato, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth, depending on how soupy you want your filling to be
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons oil (canola, vegetable, or olive all work well)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted (Optional)




Dietary Substitutions:
Not gluten-free friendly
Dairy-free: Substitute dairy-free milk or omit the milk.
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out the chicken for a hearty vegetable pot pie. You can also try substituting firm tofu in for the chicken, added at the same time of the cooking process.
Vegan-Friendly Follow dairy-free and vegetarian recommendations, plus leave off the butter or use a vegan margarine to brush over the top of the pie.

Directions

DEFROST THE PHYLLO DOUGH & PREP THE BRIE
1. Take out one sheet of puff pastry and defrost for approximately 15 minutes on the counter.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and turn a sauté pan on medium heat.
3. Add 3-4 tablespoons oil to the pan.
4. Dice 1 small yellow onion, 1 medium red potato, 2-3 peeled carrots, and cut 1-2 chicken breasts into bite sized-pieces.
5. Add the vegetables to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. 
6. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken becomes opaque. 
7. Add 5 tablespoons flour to the pan and stir to coat the chicken and onions, cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
8. Add 1-2 cups chicken broth and 1/4 cup milk to the pan and stir, cooking 2-3 minutes.
9. Add 1 cup frozen peas and leaves of 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme.
10. Add salt & pepper, to taste.
11. Simmer all of the ingredients for 5 minutes.
12. Transfer to a baking dish. A rectangular dish works best because the puff pastry sheets are rectangular and will cover your pie better. Layer the puff pastry sheet on top of the filling and brush with butter, if desired, to help the pie get a golden-brown look. Poke the middle of the pastry twice with a fork to let steam escape.
13. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 350°F. You'll know when the pie is done when the filling is bubbling, the crust has fluffed up and expanded and is a golden brown color.

Yum.

This beautiful, fresh chicken pot pie is a simple recipe that is freezer-friendly and great for lunches at work! | themillennialmenu.com

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for 3-4 days per FDA recommendations (confession: I eat this for a whole week so it's more like 6 and I have yet to die.) You can also freeze either wrapped in plastic wrap or in a ziplock bag with the air squeezed out.

LUNCH TOMORROW - This is my new favorite weekday lunch and/or freezer meal. I'll make a batch on Sunday and enjoy it every day for lunch throughout the week. You can also freeze portions (or an entire pie) and reheat later either in the oven (either already defrosted or still frozen) or in the microwave (already defrosted). 

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Unless you make a double batch, you'll have one extra sheet of puff pastry left. Use it to make my 3-ingredient baked brie or mini apple pies, or check out Buzzfeed's 18 Easy and Inexpensive Desserts You Can Make with Puff Pastry. I made the brie for a Saturday night app and then used the leftover puff pastry for this recipe for lunch for the week and it worked out perfectly. I keep my frozen peas in the freezer for another batch of chicken pot pie or Quinoa Fried Rice