Happy happy green green!
How wonderful is spring produce? Tender-crisp asparagus, peas, and pesto are making an appearance in this super easy recipe that resembles a quinoa chicken casserole but can be made with minimal prep in a cozy little crockpot. Win!
Apparently the green things are just all up in my life lately – Coconut Green Smoothie earlier this week and now a green Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Primavera – lots of good things, guys. Lots of good things. I’m feeling the healthy glow just in time for our adventures through California.
That’s right! ROOOOAD TRIPPPP! But more on that later.
So let’s have a quick word about this casserole-esque recipe – and I’m going to keep it short because pre-vacation requires these things, and also because maybe you don’t like all my words all over the page all the time every day. Gah.
This casserole – I mean Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Primavera – cooks real fast. That quinoa and chicken can be ready to go in three or four hours with the crockpot on LOW. So this might not be the one to leave on all day at work (although I do love those ones, too) – this might be the one that you start when you get home from work, take yourself out for a nice spring walk, put your feet up and Instagram for a while, and then return to the kitchen to find dinner virtually made.
Once the quinoa and chicken are cooked, you’re basically just sautéing the asparagus and tossing it in! I couldn’t get behind the idea of fresh asparagus in the crockpot, so in order to keep it super tender-crisp and fresh feeling, into the pan it goes. It won’t take more than a few minutes – just enough time to toss the peas into the crockpot with the pesto and let everything become delicious.
And then you eat, because you’re hungry and this is why we make things like extremely easy Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Primavera in large quantities on a random weeknight.
A word about the texture, for those who are texturally particular: the quinoa will get a little mushy in the crockpot. It’s really hard to avoid this. You’ll panic – but fear not!
When you add that last cup of broth and the green peas and the pesto galore plus those tender-crisp sautéed asparagus pieces and give it a good stir, you’re going to transform quinoa mush into creamy deliciousness loaded with yummy green veggies.
It’s super simple, it’s filling, it’s dinnerrrrr.
FILL ER UP.
- 1½ cups quinoa, uncooked
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 cups + 3 cups chicken broth (SEE NOTES)
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper, other dried herbs you like (I tossed in ½ teaspoon each dried parsley, thyme, and basil)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
- 6 ounces pesto (SEE NOTES)
- 2½ cups frozen peas
- squeeze of lemon juice
- watercress, fresh parsley, chives, or any other herbs for topping
- Parmesan or Asiago cheese for topping
- Rinse the quinoa. Cut the chicken if you want - you can either cut it into small pieces (it will cook faster) or leave it whole and shred it after cooking.
- Place the quinoa, chicken, 4 cups broth, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and seasonings in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
- When the quinoa and chicken are done, the mixture should be very thick and sticky. Add the remaining 3 cups broth or water and stir to combine (see notes) - now the mixture should resemble a creamy risotto or casserole. Stir in the pesto, peas, and lemon juice and cover to heat through. While the peas are heating in the crockpot, heat the oil in a skillet - add the asparagus and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until the asparagus is lightly browned and tender-crisp. Add the asparagus back to the crockpot and stir to combine.
- Top each serving with fresh herbs, shredded cheese, watercress, olive oil, or anything else you want.
Also - don't add all the additional liquid in step three unless you think it needs it. For whatever reason, both times i made this it was SUPER sticky and it did need all three cups. But some readers who have tried the recipe said that they have not needed that much liquid. So just play it by ear - add a little liquid, stir it up, and then stop adding liquid when it seems about right in terms of consistency.
For the pesto, I used DeLallo pesto - one jar = 6.3 ounces. Every pesto is different, so I'd suggest adding a few heaping spoonfuls to start, then taste and add more if needed.