3 Easy Dinner Recipes Using Chia Seeds

It's been almost hard to avoid hearing about the nutritional benefits of chia these days. Yet most of the ways we generally come across using this superfood seed are sweet and breakfast-y — in puddings, smoothies, yogurt, baked goods and more. When we came across The Chia Cookbook by Janie Hoffman, we were intrigued by the number of savory dishes chia appears in, and excited about the innovative ways they can be used for dinner. Here are three of our favorite dinner recipes using chia from the book:

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Chia gel replaces eggs in this recipe, helping keep these chicken meatballs light and fluffy. The sauce is creamy and lemony, a combination that simply melts in the mouth. As an option, try spinach linguine, which pairs nicely with the flavors in this dish and looks beautiful.

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup white chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup purified water
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • 1/3 cup coarsely grated or minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces whole grain linguine
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped fresh basil (optional)

Preparation

1. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and water and let stand for about 20 minutes. (Makes 3⁄4 cup extra-thick chia gel.)

2. Prepare an indoor or outdoor grill, or preheat the oven to 475°F.
In a large bowl, use your hands to evenly combine the chia gel, ground chicken, oats, onion, 1/4 cup of the cheese, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the parsley, oregano, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, and the red pepper flakes. When evenly combined, firmly form mixture into 20 meatballs (about 3 tablespoons each).

3. Grill over medium heat until well done and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes, rotating only as needed. Alternatively, line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Arrange the meatballs on the baking sheet and roast until well done, about 20 minutes. Insert 4 (10-inch) skewers into cooked meatballs, 5 meatballs each. If necessary, keep warm in 175°F oven while preparing linguine.

4. Cook the linguine according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.

5. Bring the half-and-half, the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and reserved pasta water to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice and toss to combine. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and toss to combine.

6. Transfer the linguine to four large pasta bowls. Top each with a skewer of chicken meatballs, sprinkle with basil and lemon zest, and serve.

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If you like to have dinner on the table in less than twenty minutes, this is your dish: there's very little prep work (it calls for canned beans, although you can always use home-cooked beans if you prefer) and it cooks up quickly. Serve it on its own as a vegetarian main dish, or as a bed for roasted chicken or sausage. This recipe works fine with regular kale (just remove spines and chop before using) as well as baby spinach and Swiss chard, too.

Serves 3 as an entree or 6 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) red onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 5 cups packed fresh baby kale (about 5 ounces)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup black or white chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, or 1 1/2 cups freshly cooked
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

1. Heat the oil in a nonstick (PFOA-free) Dutch oven or large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the kale, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, broth, chia seeds, lemon juice, and rosemary and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered while stirring occasionally until kale is tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully heated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasonings, then serve.

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Eric Wolfinger

If you're looking to increase your intake of omega-3s, you can't do better than to have a meal that combines chia with fish, especially halibut (Alaskan halibut in particular is one of your best seafood sources of omega-3s). The tasty pesto that tops off this dish is also delicious tossed with pasta.

Serves 2

Chia Pesto

  • 1 tablespoon black or white chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons purified water
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only (about 4 firmly packed cups)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 (7-ounce) halibut fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

1. To make the pesto, in a small bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and water and let stand for about 20 minutes. (Makes 1/4 cup thick chia gel.)

2. Place the walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, chia gel, basil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper in a food processor or powerful blender. Pulse to coarsely chop. Keep processor on as you drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Reserve 1/4 cup of pesto and refrigerate the remainder in an airtight container for up to 3 days to toss with pasta for another meal. Or freeze for up to 3 months for later use.

3. Prepare an indoor or outdoor grill. Brush the fish with the 1 tablespoon oil and place skin side up on grill. Close the lid and grill over medium-high heat for approximately 4 minutes. Carefully turn the fish over, skin side down, and cook until fish is just opaque, about 6 more minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate, sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for about 5 minutes to finish the cooking process.

4. Top halibut with a spoonful of the reserved pesto and serve.

Photos by Eric Wolfinger

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