A chicken and quinoa bowl that is as flavorful as it is colorful. Romesco sauce brings it all together in this veggie heavy quick and easy healthy meal. Punches of flavor in every bite with za'atar, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. It is ZESTY AF.
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- Check out my post on How to cook perfect juicy chicken breasts every time for an in depth dive into perfecting your poultry cooking skills.
- Za'atar seasoning should be available at your local grocery store.
- Rinse your quinoa vigorously to get rid of the bitter taste.
- Cook quinoa in a rice cooker just like you would rice.
- If you find the taste of kalamata olives too strong, cut them in fourths.
You'll need a few basic kitchen staples to make this dish.
- cutting board
- paper towels
- skillet (I like nonstick or cast iron)
- baking sheet
- foil (optional, but highly recommended for easier clean up)
- food processor or blender (I like this Ninja blender with food processor attachment. Also great for making smoothies!)
- Rice cooker - this guy will save you time and stress in the kitchen.
- Romesco sauce - read more about it here.
- Capers - they are actually little unripe flower buds. They have a briney essence and add flavor to the sauce. You can find them jarred near the olives in the grocery store.
- Chicken breasts - I go for high quality chicken that is antibiotic/hormone free, and fed a vegetarian diet. Refer to my post on How to cook perfect juicy chicken breasts every time.
- Za'atar - a mediterranean spice blend. Read more about it here.
- Quinoa - Read more about it here. Feel free to use white, red, or black quinoa. I used a variety mix in this recipe.
- Chicken broth - gives the quinoa more flavor than water alone. You can also use water with 2 teaspoons of chicken base, like Better than Bouillon.
- Kalamata olives - these pack a special flavor punch. Get a jar that is already halved and pitted. If you are still finding the taste too strong, I recommend cutting them in half again so there is less in each bite. Try this before omitting all together since they really bring a lot of flavor to this dish.
- Feta cheese - always buy in block form with brine rather than pre crumbled. The block stays fresher longer and doesn't get as dried out.
- Red onion - slice into ½ inch half rings. We are cutting them thicker because they will be roasted. If we were using them raw, I would recommend thin slices.
- Roma tomatoes - dice into half inch pieces.
What is za'atar?
Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend usually containing oregano, thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and other spices. It is one of my favorite seasonings to have on hand and gives any dish a mediterranean vibe. It gives the chicken in this dish tons of flavor! You can make your own, but it should be available at your local grocery store.
What is romesco sauce?
Romesco sauce originated in Spain and was originally served with seafood and fish, but it goes great with chicken as well. It's made of a combination of nuts, tomato, red peppers, garlic and oil. In this version I omitted the tomatoes and went for a heavy red pepper taste. If you love roasted red peppers, you're sure to love this sauce.
How to make romesco sauce?
To make this sauce, add roasted red peppers, almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, and garlic into a food processor or blender and puree until a smooth texture is achieved. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you're not a fan of romesco, change up the sauce for this Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette instead!
How to cook chicken breasts?
If you missed my post on How to cook perfect juicy chicken breasts every time then you should really check it out before you cook your chicken for this dish. I go over my favorite "sear and bake method" for cooking chicken breasts which we use in this recipe also. It's a foolproof way to make juicy delicious chicken breasts.
The sear and bake method firsts sears the seasoned chicken breasts in a pre heated pan for 2 minutes on each side, then finishes off the chicken in a 350° F oven for about 12-15 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is similar to a whole grain, and can be used like rice in many dishes. It's actually a seed, and has a slightly more crunchy texture than rice when cooked. It's also packed with protein, making it a more nutritious choice than some other grains. It comes in a few varieties, including white, black and red. You can also buy mixed packs.
How to cook quinoa?
Let me introduce you to a little tool that has saved me tons of headaches in the kitchen. Behold, the rice cooker. You know I love making everything from scratch, and usually turn my nose up at "quick and easy" kitchen hacks (I'm looking at you, Instant Pot) because they tend to eliminate flavor in my opinion. BUT this my friends, is not one of them. I am 100% all for using a rice cooker. And yes, you can absolutely use a rice cooker to cook your quinoa too. Makes perfectly fluffy quinoa every time! Add this to your kitchen necessity list. You don't need anything fancy at all, mine was about $20.
So how to cook it? Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer prior to cooking to help remove the bitter taste of the outer coating. Quinoa, like rice, is cooked with a 2:1 water to grain ratio. I prefer to replace water with chicken broth which helps give it extra flavor. I actually use a chicken base, like Better than Bouillon, dissolved in water in place of chicken broth. Don't forge to salt! I use ¼-1/2 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of uncooked quinoa. Add your quinoa to the rice cooker, fill with liquid to the indicated line, salt and add a splash of olive oil, set it and forget it. In about 20 minutes you'll have yourself some fluffy quinoa ready to eat.
Can you make this ahead of time?
Yep! You can prepare the chicken, onions, and romesco sauce a few days in advance. Assemble everything else just prior to serving. You can also meal prep this ahead of time for your weekly lunches.
While you're working on your meal prep for the week, you might want to check these out too!
Any questions? I'd love to help! Drop a comment below or send me an email!
Mediterranean Chicken & Quinoa Bowl with Romesco Sauce
- 1 pound chicken breasts about 2 average sized chicken breasts1 tablespoon za’atar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa2 cups low sodium chicken broth*
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Splash of olive oil
- ½ red onion sliced into ½ inch half rings
- 4 ounces fresh spinach
- ½ cup Kalamata olives halved and pitted
- 4 ounces feta cheese
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- PREP: Pat down the chicken breasts to dry. Season with za’atar, salt and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or 1 day in advance. Rinse, then cook quinoa with 2 cups of chicken broth or water and ¼ teaspoon salt**. Toss onion slices with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put on a foil lined baking sheet, saving room for the chicken breasts.
- COOK: Preheat oven to 350°F. Pat down the chicken again, and sear in a preheated skillet on medium heat until a browned crust develops, about 2 minutes on each side. Finish baking chicken breasts in the oven on the foil lined baking sheet with the onions for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts. Cook until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165°F.
- BLEND: While the chicken is cooking, add all ingredients for romesco sauce*** in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
- SERVE: Put it all together: add quinoa and spinach to the bottom of a bowl, top with sliced chicken, roasted red onions, kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and tomatoes. Top with romesco sauce.