As you’ll know if you’re a regular blog reader, I’ve recently moved offices. (Same job, same company, different building.) The new place is nice – more modern with actual, working air conditioning! And it also has an onsite cafeteria. It’s generally a nice cafeteria, with well made, well priced food. But, as you’d expect from mass catering, it’s not so great for special diets. And there are a few people in our office for whom the typical jacket potato and sandwiches aren’t always suitable. So I thought I’d try my hand at coming up with a gluten free, high protein, healthy lunch idea that does not need to be reheated and can be eaten at a desk with minimal mess.
Suman chicken is the result and Oh. My. Word. It is so good! I wasn’t even sure how to cook with sumac – I just picked it up on a whim at the local supermarket and thought I’d experiment. Wondering what on earth it is? Sumac is a dark burgundy ground spice with a lemony flavour. It’s made from dried ground berries and is very popular in Middle Eastern cooking. Here I decided to balance the tart lemony taste of the sumac with the earthy flavour of cumin and a bit of paprika for a kick. It works really well – it’s savoury but also quite light and incredibly moreish.
You could serve it with couscous, bulgur wheat or even rice if you wanted to. Here I’ve paired it with quinoa to keep the dish gluten free, cooked in a little stock for extra flavour. I suspect a good sprinkling of parsley or coriander would lift it further at the end, but I haven’t included it below as I didn’t have any in the house when I made it. If you try it, let me know how you get on.
Sumac Chicken and Quinoa
Makes enough for 2
2x chicken breasts, cut into chunks
½ a red pepper, sliced
½ to 1 courgette/zucchini (depending on size), cut into small chunks
4 spring onions/green onions, sliced
About 2 tbs white wine (or a glug!)
½ tsp Marigold vegetable stock (Marigold is gluten free but if this isn’t crucial you could swap for other stock)
4 handfuls of quinoa
For the chicken marinade:
1 tsp sumac (if you can’t get sumac, then try some lemon juice & zest)
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
2 tsp olive oil
1) Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. If it looks too dry you could either add a bit more olive oil or a bit of lemon juice. It needs to cover the chicken like a marinade/spice rub so it doesn’t need to be too runny. Add the chicken, stir and cover. Chill til needed.
2) Put the quinoa in a pan, add the stock powder and enough boiling water to cover it by about a centimetre. Bring to the boil and let simmer til it’s tender. (This will take somewhere between 7-15 minutes depending on the size of your pan. You’ll be able to tell it’s ready because the quinoa will look like they have little sprouty tails and will be easy to bite when you test a piece. Drain and put to one side.
3) Add a small amount of olive oil to a pan or wok and tip in the chicken and all the marinade. Stir fry it for a couple of minutes so it starts to firm up.
4) Add all the vegetables and stir in. Season if you want to and cook for a couple of minutes longer until the chicken is cooked through.
5) Add the wine and give it a good stir to mix in any crispy bits off the bottom of the pan. Let it simmer for a bare minute or two then serve with the quinoa.
Remember: If you’re nervous about cooking chicken properly, it’s fine to cut a piece open to check it’s done in the middle. Better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re not eating straight away then cover and put in the fridge as soon as it cools down. You may find you need to add an extra sprinkle of lemon juice to bring out the flavour if you’re eating it straight from the fridge.