‘Top Chef’ at Home

It was only Tuesday, so in theory, there should’ve been options when I opened the refrigerator to figure out dinner. Didn’t we just go shopping, like, yesterday? At this point in my life, I’m no longer surprised to see Phoebe eat her way through a gigantic container of pineapple chunks before we’ve even finished unpacking groceries. But dinner staples? That’s another issue. There’s usually more to work with than what I was looking at, which came down to a container of shredded kale slaw (impulse buy), a few straggler tomatoes, and three large chicken breasts, each of which was each hiding in three separate corners of the freezer. There was half an onion in a sad plastic bag and there was quinoa. Good old loyal, always-there-for-me quinoa. I submerged the wrapped chicken breasts in cold water and hoped inspiration would come while they thawed.

Sometimes, on days when I’ve done nothing but unload the dishwasher and shuttle the kids back and forth to their various pursuits and worry that I’m letting my feminist forebearers down with every pair of sock I match…I look at a chicken breast and I think to myself: I’m not strong enough.

Inspiration never came. Luckily, Abby had to be at soccer practice. So I did what my agent has been trying to get me to do with the rest of my life: I delegated. To Andy.

It was like our own private game of Top Chef — here are the ingredients, and now it’s Go Time. Best part: I was the landslide winner because two hours later I walked in the house and dinner was ready.

I’ll update later in the week to let you know what that dinner was, but first I’d like to know: Assuming you had all your basic pantry staples, what would you have made with what you see in the pic? Best idea wins a free copy of Dinner: A Love Story and Dinner: The Playbook. Let’s say this contest ends on Friday, March 25. Have fun!

Update: Wow, thanks for the suggestions. (We feel so boring compared to all you guys.) Andy made a basic chicken and quinoa bowl with onions, lemon, and homemade stock. (Think chicken and rice but with quinoa instead.) Then tossed the kale in an Asian dressing: rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, grapeseed oil. Served on the side. Nice and bright.

Our winner is Tatiana who chimed in with this entry:  “If “basic pantry” includes Asian food staples (red curry, coconut milk, fish sauce), then I would make a red curry sauce, poach chicken in it and then let kale cook for just a bit to wilt and add lovely bitterness to the spice and sweetness of the curry. Serve over quinoa to soak up the sauce.” Yum. That’s what we’ll do next time. Thanks Tatiana and thanks to everyone who played!

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Wendy R.

I’d probably just stir-fry all the veg and chicken and make bowls atop the quinoa.

Gabrielle Mauerman

I’m thinking pan fry the chicken, remove to warm oven and deglaze the pan with chicken broth or white wine, whatever you’ve got dregs of in your fridge. Cook down 50% and add butter to make the pan sauce silky smooth. Pilaf with the quinoa and onion (ideally using some of that wine or broth, but water works too, just up the seasonings with dry herbs), side of steamed kale with halved cherry tomatoes (and some of the onion) for vege.


Assuming all pantry staples, I would have made quinoa-crusted chicken fingers (would need parm for the quinoa as well as eggs, Dijon, and flour) and a kale salad with diced onion and cherry tomatoes with a basic vinegar and oil dressing.

There’s a four-year-old in my house so when in doubt we slice proteins into hand-hold-able sizes and coat them with something crunchy 🙂

Emma King

I think I’d make a quinoa faux-pizza crust (water, baking powder, salt, olive oil, quiona) with low-temp-oven-roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and lemon pepper chicken. I typically keep fresh pesto at hand in the freezer, so that’d be my sauce! and make a lemon-y vinaigrette to toss that kale slaw in. mmmmm, maybe dinner tonight for me and the hubs?!


The first thing that comes to my mind is a quick and easy chicken salad. Chop the onion and brown with the chicken and some spices from the pantry. Mix that with cooked quinoa and the kale slaw. Top with chopped tomatoes. Pretty boring, but dinner is served!


I would have sautéed the onion, then added the quinoa and toasted it for a minute, add in chopped tomato and then stock/water, salt and pepper. Sauté the kale slaw with olive oil, salt and pepper and some stock/water until wilted and hit it with a splash of vinegar. For the chicken, I probably would have leaned Mediterranean and made chicken skewers (since it was already cubed) with dried herbs (oregano, parsley, maybe basil), salt, pepper, and some lemon juice if you had it or vinegar if not.

Jaclyn Nguyen

Our tried a true Thursday night dinner is Chicken and Quinoa Bowls.

Mix citrus juice (or any kind of vinegar), soy sauce, honey, garlic, and olive oil. Use half to marinate chicken for 30 minutes and half of the mixture to mix with the kale and set aside. Prepare Quinoa per package instructions. Sautee onions and tomatoes and set aside. Grill Chicken.

Assemble with quinoa on the bottom, kale, onion tomato mixture, top with chicken. YUMMM

Lisa C

I would have made skewers with the chicken, onion and tomatoes. Maybe add a little oregano or other Greek spices? The kale slaw would have become a kale salad with a vinaigrette (I’m thinking red wine vinegar) and the quinoa cooked with some olive oil, diced black olives and feta cheese added to it to finish. Now I’m hungry!


Assuming the chicken breasts started as whole, I would have sautéed half of the kale and the onion (and some diced bacon if it was on hand) then stuffed the chicken breasts along with any cheese we had in the fridge, and pan seared/baked until done. Slice it into rounds so it could stretch to feed four people, and serve along a quinoa, tomato and remaining kale salad dressed lightly in a lemony vinaigrette dressing.

Come to think of it, I have all of these ingredients at home (including the bacon!) so now I know what’s for dinner! Thanks!


How fun! Well the best way to maximize the flavor with just a few tomatoes is to roast them, for sure. So I would halve and roast those first. I think I would definitely kebab and grill the chicken (I also live in Miami, always grilling season) and make a faux satay sauce using pantry staples like peanut butter, coconut milk (is this a pantry staple? I usually have a can) and some of that rice wine vinegar. From there I would saute the onion and kale slaw with anything else I could find (do we get garlic? Ginger?), dump the sauteed bits in with the cooked quinoa and add some tahini, vingear, whatever else you can find to make it bind (eggs would sure help 🙂 ) and make some quinoa patties! Grill em or saute them up, and top each cake with the roasted tomatoes. Extra satay sauce on the side. A little riskier than a stir fry bowl, but more interesting! Such a fun challenge, thanks for the post xo


I would make chicken lime tacos (sauté the chicken with a mixture of lime juice, red wine vinegar, and oregano) with corn tortillas that I had on hand and a creamy avocado/greek yogurt slaw to top it with as well as some homemade pico de gallo with the onion, tomatoes, and cilantro that I had on hand. I would make a Spanish “rice” with the quinoa and deem it “taco night!”


Saute the chicken with cumin and chili powder. Brown the onion then add the kale and cook down, splash with vinegar. Top cooked quinoa with kale, chicken and halved tomatoes. Make a garlic/yogurt/tahini sauce to drizzle over it. If you don’t have to separate out parts, you could probably cook the onion and kale in the same pan after the chicken is almost all the way done. But I’m a vegetarian, so what do I know? 😉


I would make a kale and quinoa thai style salad with a lime, fish sauce, peanuty dressing. Add some edamame from the freezer. Marinate the chicken and skewer along with tomatoes and onion for the grill.


The answer at out house lately is to curry all the things (lentils, sweet potatoes, chick peas, pot pie, chicken & dumplings, pork, etc. Have you ever had curried green apples?!?!!! Amazing). So, I would start by sauteeing the whole onion in oil with curry powder, salt, pepper, cumin, tossing the tomatoes in at the end to blister/burst. Since I’m lazy, I would probably then just layer everything else in, starting with the greens simmering in some broth/miso/salty water added to the onion/curry situation, quinoa with enough time to cook, then the chicken just long enough to cook through. I’m excited to see what Andy did. You guys are a great team! xox


First, I’d slice and saute the onion, adding ginger and garlic (occasional pantry staples) at the last minute. When the onions are soft and the garlic and ginger is fragrant, add a dollop of red curry paste and stir for a moment to mingle the flavors. Add a can of coconut milk and a little chicken stock (either Better than Bullion or homemade from the freezer). I’d simmer the cubed chicken until cooked through in the curry mixture, then add the kale slaw at the last minute, so it just wilts. Serve this curry-stew concoction over fluffy quinoa, which may or may not have been improved by a knob of salted butter at the end. Slice or dice up the tomatoes as a garnish on top.

Rachel Vail

Chicken Salad –

Bake Chicken
Carmelize Onions
Prepare Quinoa according to package. –
Mix cooked quinoa with kale….should help it wilt a bit.
Assuming you have the following:
Soy Sauce, tamari, honey, lime (zest & juice), scallions and red pepper. Might as well throw in some rice wine vinegar too :). Combine and dress the quinoa/kale salad, throw the chicken in too.
Plate and top with carmelized onions.

Mom of boys

I can’t resist taking the challenge!
Throw the tomatoes and onion and any spice/herb you have (and garlic if you have that) in the blender (you may need to add a little water to get it really well blended) with a good amount of salt. Puree. Heat oil in a pan and dump the puree into the pan. Heat until bubbly. Then toss the chicken into the sauce and put in the oven at 300 for about 30 minutes. Take one avocado and smush in the bottom of the salad bowl and mix with salad dressing on hand. Toss kale into avocado dressing until well coated. Put the quinoa back from where it came. Dinner is served.


I’d marinate the chicken with olive oil, red wine vinegar (or lemon juice), garlic, and herbs (I’m thinking parsley, oregano, and thyme, either fresh or dried). Then I’d skewer them up and grill or sauté.
I’d combine the kale slaw and quinoa with the tomatoes and a bit of onion (maybe even quickly pickled?) to make a sort of quinoa tabbouleh, with the kale replacing the parsley, and dressed with a vinaigrette similar to the chicken marinade.


Ha! I’d love to try this with my husband the next time I’m feeling uninspired. Although he’d probably just call for pizza. Not to say that would be disappointing, all things considered 😉


I would have made a simple soup – sauté the onions, add chicken, a can of crushed tomatoes if on hand, chicken stock, kale, quinoa, dice the straggler tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, done.


I would probably make a chicken burrito bowl. Use some homemade taco seasoning to cook the chicken, and maybe cook the quinoa in salsa and chicken stock to imitate “spanish” rice. Add a can of black beans, cooked with some onion and a little cumin. And probably treat the kale slaw to your very own sandwich slaw dressing. Mix it together with some shredded cheddar cheese and call it a night!


Warm quinoa kale salad (vinaigrette) over pan-fried, breaded chicken breasts. Lemon wedges. I love salad layered on protein. (Definitely weeknight easy.) By the way, sometimes your security question math is hard! 😉

Nancy E

The makings of an easy, family-friendly Middle Eastern feast:
Whisk together a tangy yogurt marinade for the chicken: yogurt, lemon juice, dried oregano, rosemary or thyme, (or a medley of all three), minced garlic, salt and pepper.

Marinade the chicken while you make the kale-quinoa tabbouleh: cook the quinoa in water (or vegetable stock, if you have on hand); cool to room temperature by spreading out on a baking tray. Mix cooled quinoa with shredded kale, tomatoes (medium chopped) and onions (fine chopped). Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Refrigerate while you are cooking the chicken.

Skewer the chicken pieces and grill or broil. Serve with pita wedges (I usually have some kind of flat-bread floating around in my freezer).

To top it off, here’s an easy pantry dessert: Mix tahini (sesame paste – a staple for making hummus and other veggie dips in our house) and honey to taste (adding water, a teaspoon or so at a time, to yield the right consistency). This dip is reminiscent of halvah, the sweet tahini and honey confection of the Middle East. Serve with apple wedges for dipping. If you don’t have tahini in your fridge, substitute peanut butter.


I would have turned it into tabouli (kale, quinoa, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice) served with grilled ‘greek’ chicken skewers (seasoned with oregano, mint and garlic)


I have a yummy recipe for quinoa with roasted garlic, spinach, and tomatoes. I probably would try that with the kale. That’s usually enough for us, but grilled chicken would also be yummy mixed into it.


Well, quinoa is from the Andean region of South America, so I’d make up a sopa de quinua con pollo. Of all my pantry staples, frozen homemade chicken stock is my favorite and most relied upon. Spending an afternoon putting up a few garlicky, herbaceous, gelatin-rich quarts for the freezer feels like money in the bank. With this soup, I’d start by tossing the chicken with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few good pinches aji amarillo powder. In the bottom of my heavy-bottomed soup pot, I’d toast a chile pasilla till it was evenly darkened and fragrant, let it cool, seed and stem. Saute the onions till golden and soft, deglazing with defrosted stock when necessary, add tomatoes, a few minced cloves of garlic, a good pinch of crushed cumin seeds and cook until tomatoes have burst. I would scrape this mixture into a bowl and puree with the chile pasilla using a stick blender. In my soup pot, I’d add a bit more oil and brown my chicken pieces, add the rinsed quinoa, stir very thoroughly, and – if the old wooden foot locker I keep in the dark cool of the pantry still had any purple potatoes or butternut squash from last fall’s farmers market – add two or three cups of chopped root veg. I would top generously with stock, correct for salt, and simmer about 30 minutes till the chicken pieces were falling apart, the quinoa was cooked, and I could spear the root veggies easily with a fork. To serve, I would divide the kale slaw between bowls and ladle soup over. If I was really lucky and my girls hadn’t smuggled away all the limes (which obviously belong under the couch or tucked into my shoes) and I had actually remembered to wrap the cilantro in paper towels the last time I returned from the grocery, I would garnish.


I love the texts!

I probably would have made a two pot meal. Sauteed the chicken with the onion and garlic if you had any in olive oil. Added the greens until cooked down (with perhaps a tablespoon or two of water or better yet chicken stock if you have it), added the tomatoes for a short minute, and then added heavy cream and parmesan cheese (again assuming you have these ingredients). Would have meanwhile cooked the quinoa in water (or chicken stock / with herbs – if you had them again), and served the chicken over the quinoa.

Fun task!


Not-Andy’s Chicken:

1.5 oz bourbon
2 oz water
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 oz prosciutto if you have it
1 oz cheddar cheese if you don’t

4 TBLS butter, divided
3 TBLS flour
Cubed raw chicken (I’m assuming 1.5 lbs)
Half an onion, thinly sliced
2.5 cups kale slaw
Two cups liquid (recommended: 1 cup chicken stock or broth, half cup white wine, half cup milk)
Cubed raw chicken (I’m assuming 1.5 lbs)
1 tablespoons cider vinegar (or juice of half a lemon if you have it)
1 tsp dried tarragon
S&P to taste
Parmesan cheese if you have it

Prepare yourself a drink. Eat cherry tomatoes with prosciutto or cheddar cheese because you’re starving and you’ll be either tipsy or grumpy if you don’t eat something already.
Prepare quinoa with salt if desired and set aside.
In large skillet heat 1 TBLS butter over medium high heat; lightly salt and add chicken in batches to allow for nice browning. Once chicken is all browned (but not yet cooked through), reduce heat to medium low and add onion, then kale slaw, and stir from time to time. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in 4 cup or larger saucepan; once melted, add flour and cook for a couple minutes, then begin adding the liquid. Add acid and seasonings to taste, and reduce heat to low.
Check that the chicken is cooked through. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture in the skillet, and adjust seasonings again. Divide quinoa among bowls and ladle chicken mixture over top. Grate parm on if you have it.
Pour another drink and yell, “SUPPER”

Jane Uzzell

If it was today, where schools are closing all over the area because of heavy snow, I would make chicken soup. So easy to make with quinoa, and add the kale at the last 2 or 3 minutes so it’s still bright green and delicious. I might have even made home egg noodles–just an egg and flour. If it was yesterday, I would’ve put the chicken in the food processor so I could grill chicken burgers with a quinoa/kale salad with home made vinaigrette. And, I think that a glass of white wine would go great with either or both!


Quinoa patties/burgers! Cook quinoa, roughly chop, saute and soften greens, onions, tomatoes and mix together with an egg (or flax substitute) and a mashed can of white beans if your pantry is stocked. Add any spice and a generous swirl of sriracha and a few handfuls of panko. Let sit, form into burgers and fry. Top with sad fridge cucumbers, onion or slaw and wasabi or sriracha mayo. The chicken can be future dinners problem! (vegetarian house over here :))

Rebecca Staple - The District Table

I would have put together a kale quinoa Caesar salad with chicken. The dressing would nicely tie the main ingredients together. Perhaps with oven-roasted tomatoes for a pop of acidity.

Looking forward to hearing what came of the ingredients!


I would do a chicken quinoa bake with a hoisin sauce and an Asian kale salad. Though I haven’t tried it, I once saw a recipe where you layered uncooked quinoa, veg, raw chicken and sauce and baked it for something like an hour. Seems perfect since the chicken is already cubed. So I would put the quinoa on the bottom, diced onion on top, followed by chicken and then poor over a hoisin thinned with some soy sauce, sesame oil and lime. I like hands-off recipes. Bonus points for sesame seeds in the pantry. I would cut up the tomato, toss with that awesome kale salad and let it marinate in a dressing of soy sauce, sesame oil, lime, garlic, ginger and honey. Cold and crunchy with warm and homey.


I’d make a Top Chef version of fried rice.
I would chop up the chicken in to bite size pieces.
Season with Arizona Dreaming.
Saute with the onion and some garlic.
Scramble in an egg or two. Mix in the quinoa so it’s equally distributed.
Season with a mix of sirarcha, rice vinegar, soy and lime juice
Then add the kale mix and halved tomatoes until just wilted and warmed.

Pat M.

We’re vegetarians here, so I’m not part of the challenge.

I would, however, like to let you know that the partnership, willingness, and culinary skills you and Andy represent are truly inspiring. Would that every household could be so well endowed.

Thanks for sharing your world view…..and for the Blue Hill at Stone Barns post a few years back.

Jette Christensen

Start with the quinoa: boil it with a crushed pod of cardamom as described on the package. Mix when readywith the tomatoes which you have blended to smithereens in your blender with a tsp of some sweetness from your larder.
S lice the onion , fry it in som oil and a TSp each of ground cummin and coriander, add the chicken give it a couple of minutesWhile stirring occasionally, add the cale and stir to coat it with the pan loveliness, add half a cup of water/chickenstock and a cup or so of cream of coconut .


Stir-fry is my go to when all I have are leftover veggies and protein. My protein of choice is usually tofu, but anything will work. Ginger and garlic are always pantry-staple status for me, so this is what I’d do.

You’d need: Ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, oil, soy sauce, sugar, chicken, kale, onion, quinoa. (I’d leave out the tomatoes, but that is up to you!)

To start, cook the chicken through in a little oil over medium heat. Set aside. Then heat up a little more oil in the pan, add the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and wait until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then quickly mix in sliced onions and shredded kale. Stir fry until the greens are wilted and the onions are just barely done. Toss the chicken back in the pan, add a splash of soy sauce and the tiniest sprinkle of sugar. Toss to coat & serve over cooked quinoa!


Oven Fajita Chicken Salad

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken in a greased dish. Combine 2Tbs veg. oil, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, S&P, and pour over chicken. Slice up the onion and slice the tomatoes in half. Throw them in the baking dish. Stir to combine. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

While its cooking prepare the quinoa according to package instructions. Dress the kale with some lime juice and S&P. If you have a can of black beans, rinse them, throw them on the stove, and season.

To assemble the salad, I would do the kale slaw, black beans, scoop of quinoa, top with chicken/tomato, onion mixture. Add cheese, sour cream, avocado, whatever you have.

Would kale slaw with fajitas be weird? maybe? Probably?

I turn everything I buy at the grocery store into some sort of Tex-Mex dish. Sorry – not sorry :).


Simple Stir-Fried “Buddy” Chicken with Tomatoes and Onions, served over Grilled Lemon Quinoa with Sumac. Kale Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing.


If “basic pantry” includes Asian food staples (red curry, coconut milk, fish sauce), then I would make a red curry sauce, poach chicken in it and then let kale cook for just a bit to wilt and add lovely bitterness to the spice and sweetness of the curry. Serve over quinoa to soak up the sauce.
Otherwise – massage kale with lemon juice, toss with olive oil. Cook quinoa, sauté the onion and then chicken, deglaze with white wine and a bit of lemon juice, stir in a bit of butter and serve over quinoa with a healthy mound of kale.



chicken (quickly marinated in soy sauce, sugar, wine) + frozen corn + garlic, all stir fried over quinoa for the kids. The addition of kale slaw with ginger vinaigrette for adults (I use the Epicurious recipe). Not too interesting but my kids love chicken and corn so it’s an easy win for dinner.

Rachel S.

My first thoughts were a stirfry or salad using all of these ingredients. I’m afraid Inwouldnt win Chopped with that kind of creativity though!

Maybe quinoa bites using all these ingredients for something different? Or a frittata?


I would make a Quinoa bowl. Fry the onions, tomatoes and chicken together until tomatoes are soft and have created a sort of sauce, cook the quinoa with a stock cube (hoping you have one floating somewhere in the cupboard) and then dress the slaw in any vinegar you have on hand, some olive oil and if you’re lucky a crushed garlic clove and dollop of greek yoghurt. Dinner done.

Annie C

I just showed my husband and his answer was: “I’d probably marinate the chicken in a simple marinade of lemon, olive oil, and some of that onion and chopped herbs and garlic. Grill that. Cook the quinoa. Slow-and-low oven roast on those tomatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper…just so they get kind of chewy and sweet. Throw it all together as a hearty slaw-salad with a creamy whole grain mustard vinaigrette.”


I’ve had a lemon-chicken rice bowl recipe open in a browser tab for at least the last week, so I think I would cook the quinoa in chicken stock, then bake it with the chicken, lemon & herbs (either dried or from my vege garden, plus we almost always have at least one lemon or lime in the pantry). Served with the kale salad, mixed with the chopped tomatoes and a zingy vinegary dressing. Hmm, I think I actually do need to make this… tonight!


Dice the onion, sauce in olive oil, add chicken broth, then cook the quinoa in that. Roast the chicken. Build a bowl: quinoa, chicken, kale, all drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette.


Fire up the grill. Put the chicken cubes in a quick marinade: a yogurt based one like you make, lemon juice and olive oil based if that’s not possible, skip the marinade and brush with bbq sauce at the end if all else fails. Skewer the chicken cubes and separately, the onion. Toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and wrap them in aluminum foil. Cook the quinoa. Grill the chicken until done, onion until charred, and tomatoes in packet until they burst. Chop the onion and mix it and the tomatoes with their juices into the quinoa. Season the quinoa salad with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and any fresh herbs on their last legs. Serve grilled chicken, quinoa salad, and your ready-to-go kale slaw.


If I was Andy I would have called you just as you were heading home and ask you to stop and pickup the Pizza’s that were waiting for you at the local pizza take-out. But that’s just me. Serve with a kale slaw, of coarse. Throw the chicken in a dutch oven, cut up as is…. with the onions and tomatoes and a few other spices. Let the chicken cook while you eat pizza. Remove chicken from the oven and cool before shredding to put over the leftover kale coleslaw for tomorrows lunch


I would make tacos. I always have masa harina in the house so I’d whip up some corn tortillas. I’d sauté the chicken with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic and then toss in some handfuls of slaw mix just to wilt. Finish with a squeeze of lime and some finely diced onion and quartered tomatoes. Bonus points if you have cilantro in the fridge. Meanwhile, I’d make a Mexican quinoa pilaf with sautéed onion, cumin, and tomato paste. Serve beside tacos.


This is not going to win for most creative… but honestly I would brown the onion, then make the quinoa in the same pot with some vegetable broth and raisins (assuming we are allowed to have raisins in our pantry). Then, separately, would saute the chicken, kale, and tomatoes (halved) with North African-ish spices and add enough liquid that it gets a little sauce-y. Serve together and possibly top with plain yogurt, if we allowed to have plain yogurt.

Raising The Capable Student

I would cross my fingers and hope I still had a bottle of Trader Joes Red Curry sauce in the pantry! I would slice up the onion and sauté it with oil and some garlic, and then add the cubed chicken. Then add the TJ Red Curry Sauce. I would microwave the couscous because then I could stick that glass dish in the dishwasher. I would add the shredded kale slaw to the pot with the chicken, onions, and TJ red curry sauce with about 5 minutes to go. Then serve it over the couscous with the fresh tomato diced on top.

I would know everyone would be so starving that they’d wolf it down and love it. Plus it’s an easy cleanup. Because let’s be serious…at that time of night, the clean up is the worst part!


Great idea! I love a challenge 🙂
My plan is a winter salad of sorts.
Dressing: chop that onion real fine and get in lemon juice stat. Just before serving add olive oil, dijon, salt, pepper, pinch of cumin and cayenne and drizzle of honey.
Chicken: combine 1 Tbsp za’atar with 1 tsp of salt and rub on chicken. Let sit all day in fridge if you can. Heat pan with drizzle of olive oil and sear chicken on all sides. pop in oven at 375 degrees until cooked through (10-15min)
Quinoa: i like to toast in coconut oil before adding broth
Assembly: Toss kale with dressing. top with chopped chicken , warm quinoa and diced tomatoes. Empty crisper of any stray fresh veggies (1/2 cucumber, fresh parsley, shred a carrot and dice 1/2 a red pepper.)
Optional: Sprinkle with additional za’atar.
Feeling fancy? Crumble za’atar pita chips on top (made with stale freezer burnt pitas, rubbed with olive oil and za’atar seasoning and baked in hot oven with chicken on separate baking sheet).


I would have made grilled schwarma spiced chicken, tomato and onion kebabs, with quiona, and a tahini lemon kale slaw… and a gin and tonic!

Rachele Lopatka

I would look up a recipe in Dinner A Love Story or Dinner The Playbook that contains those ingredients and then I’d make that recipe!


I just showed my husband and he said he would put it all up and make peanut butter and jelly. 🙂


I don’t know what I love more- the texts or all of the great responses! It sounds crazy, but 90% of my meals are planned around the weather, and yesterday was no exception! We had 15 minutes of hail right as I was preparing dinner, so grilling would not have been an option! I would have made a rustic soup, throwing in some garlic and thyme from the pantry and serving it with garlic bread made from the crusty ends of bread that my family always leaves me to “work with!”

jenn in GA

i would’ve made a thai peanut sauce and set it aside. then i would’ve prepped the quinoa by rinsing it, toasting it, and pairing it in a dutch oven with chicken broth and some of the kale slaw to simmer on the stove and get all happy with each other. meanwhile, i would’ve caramelized the onion to golden yumminess in some butter.

i would’ve baked the chicken in the oven, then sliced it and tossed it in the peanut sauce while it was still warm and served it with the quinoa/slaw pilaf. the caramelized onions would’ve topped the entire creation as the piece de resistance (imagine the French accent here). the tomatoes would’ve been apportioned to each member of the family–2 each as a garnish.


Option 1: quick coconut curry with chicken, kale, onion, and pantry staples: ginger, garlic, curry powder, coconut milk, plus any other veggies lying around and frozen peas. I would roast the tomatoes separately with more garlic. Serve all over quinoa
Option 2: pollo guisado with onion, chopped tomatoes, kale, and pantry staples cumin, black pepper, garlic (pounded in mortar), and stock, served over quinoa
Option 3: marinate chicken in balsamic citrus mixture, saute/grill/roast/whatever; serve over quinoa; dress salad of kale and tomatoes in vinaigrette on side


Since the weather has warmed up a bit I would’ve massaged the kale for salad, cooked the chicken with diced onion and pantry herbs / seasonings, cooked the quinoa in stock. Tossed it all together with some dried cranberries or raisins if I had them, dress with homemade honey mustard dressing and called it dinner. Oh, and some walnut or pistachio sprinkled in would be good with it too, if I had them. Looking forward to seeing what transpired. Thanks, Lori


I’d slice the onion and halve the tomatoes and get them and the quinoa started in a high-sided sautée pan with minced garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, basil from my windowsill garden, a little olive oil, and water (or chicken stock if I happen to have any saved in the freezer!) a la Martha Stewart’s One-Pot-Pasta. While that cooked, I’d sautée the chicken and kale with salt, pepper, and some more red pepper flakes in a separate pan, then incorporate them into the quinoa/veggie mixture for the last few minutes of cooking.

And now I want to go buy chicken, quinoa, kale, and tomatoes and make this for dinner tonight… If only the dregs of my weekend shopping trip were as promising as yours…


I’ve been missing NY style chicken and rice platters a lot recently, so I would probably make a healthier version of that with these ingredients. For the chicken breasts, I would marinate them in a mix of coriander, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and garlic. I would grill the chicken and onions or cook them in a hot cast iron skillet to get a nice char and color on them. For the quinoa, I would cook it with some tumeric, toasted cumin, garlic and use chicken broth instead of water for some extra flavor. Chicken and rice platters are always served with a sad iceberg salad, so I would dress the kale slaw mix and tomatoes with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If I had some greek yogurt in the fridge I would mix it up with some dill, salt, pepper and lemon juice for a healthier version of white sauce to top the plate with.


I would do a quinoa, kale, roasted tomato, chicken bake – layer the quinoa, sauted kale and onion and chicken, roast the tomatoes and add them in and add a sauce from cupboard ingredients – stock, tomato sauce, creamed corn – add some cheese on the top (I have parm and feta in my fridge which would be great) and bake the whole thing until everything was melded together and the cheese golden brown and bubbly. I don’t normally cook with quinoa so I would have to check whether it needs to be precooked before going in the dish….


A duo of salads: roasted tomato and quinoa salad and caesar kale slaw with sauteed chicken. Fun brainstorming, thanks!


I love this challenge. First I’d start caramelizing the onion in a skillet, low and slow with butter and olive oil. I’d season that chopped chicken very generously with the butt ends of my spice blends (blended for one recipe or another in the last few months). Saute the chicken along with the onions when the onions are close to done. Cook chicken through. Pour out any liquid into a small bowl and add some lemon juice or some vinegar to make a quick dressing in the bowl.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa whatever way is easiest. When done, toss with the dressing from above.

The kale salad gets lightly dressed with olive oil, black pepper and salt and is then massaged a bit and set aside.

In a large bowl lay down the quinoa first, and then the kale salad. In the middle of the bowl lay down a blob of plain yogurt (if you have some) and some hot sauce. Top this with the chicken and onions. Scatter the tomatoes, halved. Add slivered red onions if you have them. Add cubes of cheese if you wish. Enjoy your hearty salad.

Libby Monaghan

What I would have done is make the quinoa with some Italian-type seasonings. I would saute the chicken with halved tomatoes, onion, garlic, and seasonings, stirring in the kale near the end and served that on top of the quinoa with a big squirt of lemon juice and maybe some Parmesan cheese. It wouldn’t be all that pretty but I feel confident that it would be delicious.
This is usually my go-to when I’m not sure what to do. Cook down all the veggies and serve it over some sort of grain or pasta. 🙂
This is also how I discovered savory French Toast. Cook down all the veggies with garlic and , serve it over french toast, apply cheese. Some people need meat for every meal but for me it’s carbs. Obviously.
Can’t wait to find out what you guys did!

Nancy E

As my city gets pummeled with ice pellets, I’m thinking we need to warm things up a bit. Here’s another submission – one that brings some Southern sunshine to dinner: Marinate the chicken in olive oil, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, dried oregano (fresh is even better if you happen to have it), salt, and a good grind of pepper. Add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to bump up the heat.

Meanwhile, whisk together a creamy honey mustard dressing for kale slaw – half and half mayonnaise and yogurt, honey, your favorite mustard, a dash of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Dress the shredded kale and throw in some chopped apple, if you have one.

Chop the onion and saute in olive oil and butter until soft. Add the quinoa and water or vegetable stock. Fluff with a fork when cooked, and gently stir in a handful of raisins and toasted slivered almonds. Keep warm.

Thread the chicken and tomatoes on skewers and grill until done. Serve on a bed of the quinoa pilaf, with slaw on the side.


I’d go Italian. Start the quinoa according to package.

In separate pan, saute onion, then garlic. Add kale, salt, and a good amount of olive oil. Wilt the kale.

In cast iron skillet, sear up chicken with salt, olive oil, and rosemary. Try and get a nice crispy edge on the chicken.

Combine kale mixture and quinoa. Check for salt and olive oil. Top with chicken and halved Cherry tomatoes. One last drizzle of olive oil?


i would have made:

1. make meatballs with the quinoa and chicken (cook the quinoa, small dice and saute onions and garlic, food process chicken, mix all together with eggs, various herbs–parsley, basil, or other–smoked paprika, and s/p, mix all and form into balls, bake.
2. make an olive oil, lemon, mustard and parmesan dressing for kale slaw and mix in, massaging kale a bit, then add in some toasted slivered/sliced nuts or chickpeas.
3. snack on tomatoes while doing all of this 😉 (or roast ’em with the meatballs, or halve and add to kale slaw as well)

Sarah Y.

How about something chicken tikka-ish?

I’d brown the chicken in some vegetable oil for 5 minutes or so, then remove to a plate. Chop and add the onion and the tomatoes to the same pan; let these cook for 3 minutes or so. Add some chopped garlic, grated ginger and garam masala (about a tablespoon of each of these), wait about 30 seconds and add the kale salad. I’d throw in a teaspoon or two of kosher salt, too. Once the kale wilts, add the chicken with its juices, half a can of coconut milk and let this all simmer for 5 minutes or so or until the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in water or broth. Once its finished, stir in the remaining coconut milk. Let that simmer just for a few minutes so the coconut milk can soak in.

Top the quinoa with the chicken mixture. If there’s cilantro in the fridge, chop it up and throw it on top. Yum!


I would have cooked the quinoa. Meanwhile, cooked the kale and onions together on the stove, then mix with the quinoa, whisked eggs, and breadcrumbs and formed patties. Pan-fried and served with “chicken tenders” i.e. chicken coated in the same breadcrumb/egg mixture and either baked or pan-fried as well. Now I’m hungry!


I would have chopped up the tomatoes and sauteed with the onion, then wilted the kale with a squeeze of lemon. (I think this originally came from an African-style kale recipe which I’ve surely watered down. Then made some kind of spiced chicken kebab to go with the kale and quinoa – maybe a yogurt marinade if the pantry has yogurt.

Now I have to read the other responses!


Broil the chicken and tomatoes, cook and cool the quinoa, add slivers of Parmesan and a nice viniagrette (use the runoff from the tomatoes to flavor this), have a nice big protein-packed salad.


Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously on both sides. Brown them in a big skillet on medium-high heat in a little olive oil until there’s a nice color on both sides. Remove from pan. Add the onion and sauté with a little salt and pepper. Start to deglaze the pan with the moisture from the onion and then add a splash of chicken stock (which is definitely a staple in our freezer). When the moisture has evaporated and the onions have a nice caramel color, add the chopped cherry tomatoes and cook until they’ve started to soften, just a few minutes. Add the quinoa and stir to combine, letting it toast a little. Add the chicken back in along with any juices and a few cups of stock to cover the ingredients and allow the quinoa to cook. Turn down to a simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes. When the quinoa is cooked, stir in the kale and remove from heat. The residual heat should cook through the kale and be ready for a one-pot dinner in about five minutes. Voila!


I would make a quinoa risotto if there was chicken stock in a slow cooker.. combine kale quinoa chicken stock seasoning and shredded parmesan cheese (if you have it). Serve the risotto with a side salad comprised of the remaining kale salad mixed with diced tomatoes and a balsamic dressing