Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jamie's 15-Minute Meal (in ONE hour) - San Fran Quinoa and Blackened Chicken Salad

So this post should really be called Jamie's 1-hour meal - because that's how long it took me to make it! Oh Jamie, how you make all culinary undertakings look like a piece of cake (and sometimes they actually involve cake).

I was actually inspired to make this meal because:
  1. Jamie made it look amazingly easy - he did it in 15 minutes!
  2. It involved the wonderful marriage of mango and chicken *I lovee*
  3. It looked full of healthy goodness and I definitely needed some after eating like a pig in KL!
Fun fact - shopping for the ingredients took me more than 15 minutes!! (34 minutes to be exact)

But I was determined to give it a go. So after hunting down ALL the ingredients (no compromises at all), I was ready to embark on my supposed 15-minute meal-making journey.

Alas, it was not to be (15 minutes, I mean) :( 15 minutes after setting out to make my meal, I found myself still peeling my spring onions, and then peeling my mango, and then freaking out because my quinoa hadn't cooked in the 8 minutes that Jamie said it would. Oh life - why can't you ever be even the teeniest bit like what we see on TV?

The aim of this post, unlike what the previous few paragraphs may lead you to think, is not to belittle Jamie's 15-minute meals for taking longer than 15 minutes to make, but actually to share what I think is a fairly successful effort at replicating something from a cooking show (albeit taking 4 times longer). And it is indeed a nice, healthy little recipe that all you health freaks out there will love to death because, get this, it actually tastes and looks amazing! The contrasting flavours - sweet mango, spicy and smokey chicken, tangy lime-drenched quinoa; the lovely colours - reds, yellows, greens; the varying textures - soft, crunchy, chewy... Mmmm :)

I kept the quinoa, chicken, and capsicum separate and only assembled my salad in single serve portions. You'll be glad to know that the quinoa mixed with the herbs keeps well in the fridge for a few days and still maintains its lovely green colour. All components can be easily reheated (stove/microwave/oven). OH and also, I think the salad would work just as well with firm tofu replacing the chicken - blackened tofu! Yummayy.

So without further ado, here is the recipe as taken from Jamie's website:

Jamie's San Fran Quinoa and Blackened Chicken Salad


Quinoa salad
1 mug (300g) of quinoa (I used a mix of 3 types of quinoa)
1 fresh red chilli
100g baby spinach
4 spring onions
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 ripe large mango
2 limes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ripe avocado (I omitted this just because I didn't feel like handling an avocado
50g feta cheese (I used Danish feta - it has a creamier texture than Greek feta)
1 punnet of cress (I couldn't find cress, so I substituted it with snow bean sprouts. Big mistake - sprouts taste weird in this salad. I would use real cress or nothing at all when I make it in the future.)

2 x 200g skinless chicken breasts
1 heaped tsp ground allspice
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
olive oil
2 mixed-colour peppers

To serve
4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt (I used Greek yoghurt - love the texture and tang)


Put the quinoa into the pan and generously cover with boiling water and the lid. Put the chilli, spinach, trimmed spring onions and coriander (reserving a few leaves) into the processor, tear in the top leafy half of the mint, then blitz until finely chopped. On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper, the allspice and paprika. Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken to 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin. Put into the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, until blackened and cooked through.

De-seed the peppers, cut each one into 8 strips and add to the frying pan, tossing regularly. Peel and cut the mango into chunks. Drain the quinoa and rinse under the cold tap, then drain well again and tip on to a serving board or platter. Toss with the blitzed spinach mixture, squeeze over the lime juice, add the extra virgin olive oil, mix well and season to taste.

Sprinkle the mango chunks and cooked peppers over the quinoa. Halve and de-stone the avocado, then use a teaspoon to scoop curls of it over the salad. Slice up the chicken, toss the slices in any juices and add to the salad. Crumble over the feta, scatter over the remaining coriander leaves and snip over the cress. Serve with dollops of yoghurt.



  1. I tried a Jamie before too and it took me forever as well :( I think maybe he's either hugely optimistic or (and) doesn't take into account washing up time!

  2. Being in a TV show means having tons of people who already buy your ingredients, wash them and line up all your utensils. It's a 15-minute meal when you are a chef like he is, but the results are amazing and the time and effort we invest in these recipes are so worth it!