On a recent business trip to Vienna, I stayed with one of my former classmates from my MA in interpreting at the University of Leeds, Aimee, who now works as a freelance interpreter for the OSCE (and is a genius). She introduced me to the concept of food cooperative, something which is all the rage in Austria but is almost unheard of in Italy. In a nutshell, a bunch of people group up to order directly from farmers and producers so as to cut out the middlemen. This also means you get to choose what kind of food you want (organic, for instance) and can also check whether the farmers you order from are respecting certain standards and looking after their livestock. You then arrange weekly deliveries and stock the supplies in a common place where all of the members of the cooperative can go and get it from.
It’s an amazingly easy yet effective agreement, but it relies on the goodwill of some of the cooperative’s members to go get the deliveries, print out the distribution lists, etc. Not for me, then, at least not now I have a pretty hectic lifestyle. I have, however, decided to start ordering food from an organic farm which delivers nationwide and I have to say I am very satisfied both with the quality and the service (it’s Abel & Cole, in case you’re wondering). This recipe was put together before my organic epiphany, but I like to think it’s a bit of a precursor. What better way to celebrate the start of spring than to use brightly coloured food and arrange it artistically on a plate? Original recipe credit goes to the BBC Good Food magazine, albeit with minor changes.
- 2 organic chicken breasts
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 160g quinoa
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 150g baby spinach leaves
- a bunch each of coriander and mint, chopped
- 1/2 pomegranate, seeds only
- 30g peppadew peppers
- 200g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), sliced
- 100g feta, crumbled
- 1 mango, peeled and flesh cut into chunks
- lemon and lime juice, to taste
- vegetable oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the oven to 180C. Lightly brush the chicken breasts with some oil, then rub with the paprika, chilli powder, salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat, then sear the breasts on each side for about 2 minutes. Arrange on a lined baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes or until cooked.
- Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Rinse the quinoa under cold running water, then put in the pan with some sea salt. Cook for 15 minutes (or follow packet instructions) until the quinoa is translucent and transparent. Drain in a sieve and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a food processor, add the spring onions, coriander, mint, chilli, spinach and blend. Add some lemon/lime juice and some seasoning to taste, then whiz to a smooth puree.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into slices.
- Add the vibrant green puree to the cooked quinoa and mix well to tinge the latter a bright green. Arrange on a plate, then start adding the other ingredients, including the mango, beetroot pieces, feta and chicken pieces, then sprinkled with some extra spring onions and sliced chilli (optional), then serve and enjoy!