Brown Rice Salad with Spinach and Balsamic Chicken

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I read a LOT of food blogs on a regular basis, and I’m starting to see a trend: I gravitate towards blogs with a) fantastic, beautiful pictures and b) original recipes. This is because my blog usually has c) none of the above (but I’m working on it! I really am) and I’m hoping that I’ll learn a thing or two from the blogs that inspire me so much.

A few months ago my husband challenged me to come up with one (or more) new, original recipe each week. Because we were traveling the last 5 months, I couldn’t stick with it, but now that I’m back to cooking daily, I’m taking up the challenge once again.

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Today’s recipe was inspired by the bag of brown rice I recently purchased, and the beautiful bunches of spinach at the market. Since I pack my lunch every day, I knew I wanted to make something filling and nutritions, that could be eaten straight from the container without needing a spin in the microwave. I marinated some chicken in a little balsamic vinegar, cooked it up with some browned onions, and tossed that with citrus-scented brown rice, some raw spinach, and toasted walnuts. I know that sounds like a jumbled mess of flavors, but they come together really well.

1 cup brown rice
1 1/4 cups orange juice
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups washed spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Combine the brown rice, water, and orange juice and cook (on the stove top or in a rice cooker).
Toss the chicken with the balsamic vinegar and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat (shake the pan to keep the nuts from burning) and remove when fragrant.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the onion. Over low heat, cook the onion, stirring minimally, until translucent. Add the sugar, give the onions one good stir, and continue cooking until onions are browned (about 15 minutes).
Add the chicken to the onions and turn the heat up. Cook, stirring, until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
Put the chicken and walnuts in a serving bowl and top with the spinach.
Put the cooked rice on top of the spinach and let sit for a few minutes so the spinach wilts slightly.
Toss, then serve warm or at room temperature.

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