Monday, 14 January 2013

Warm Rice Salad with Chicken, Carmelized Onions and Chicken

Comfort food that is still healthy is a tricky task.  What each person describes as comfort varies and for that matter, so does what is healthy.  Jos and Luke will always love their mom's mac and cheese, but we can't eat that every night.  I don't even want to eat it every week!  (confession: I never eat it.  I only make it when Don and the kids are home eating without me.  And even then, there is sweet potato pureed in).

As a rule I try to avoid using reduced fat or chemically altered ingredients to achieve lower calories. I want whole ingredients that meet our taste demands without inputing a bunch of chemicals I can't pronounce.  This dish strikes a nice balance.  The carmelized onions and goat cheese bring some richness, while the spinach and tomatoes bring in that fresh healthy taste.  Throw in my favourite rice mix and the mandatory carb factor to keep the kids interested is met.  I've made this one in advance and just reheated at meal time.  It's a time saver on busy work nights.


Rice with Carmelized Onion, Spinach, Tomatoes and Chicken

adapted from Bon Appetit
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups onions sliced (about 2 large)
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
4 cups tomatoes diced (I used 2 pints of cherry tomatoes)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups mixed rice, cooked
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
*prior to starting, you will need to cook both your rice and chicken.  I poached two chicken breasts in broth for about 15min.  Removed from heat and shredded.  You could use rotisserie chicken already cooked.The rice blend I cooked took 35min.  You could cook the rice and chicken at the same time as the onions, but you will be juggling a lot of pans on the stove at once.*
In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil and add onions.  Cook on medium heat cook until browned, stirring often for about 10min.  Reduce heat to low and add vinegar and sugar.  Stirring often, cook about 15-20min until translucent and carmelized.  Remove onions from pan and reserve.
Add wine to pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to 1/4 cup (about 3-5min).  Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil for about 3min.  Add chicken, reserved onions and rice.  Reduce to medium heat and heat until warm throughout (about 5min).
Divide spinach onto plates and top with hot chicken, rice mixture.  Sprinkle basil and goat cheese on top.  Enjoy!  Season with salt and pepper generously.

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