Chicken and quinoa salad recipe

Posted on November 20, 2012

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Eating well on weeknights can be hard, Monday nights are especially bad. You’ve hardly recovered from the weekend, it’s been a long day at work and by the time you make it home for dinner, all you want to do is lie on the couch and mentally prepare yourself for the next day. Who can be bothered to slave away at the stove to throw dinner together? But then, how to achieve the convenience of a fuss free meal without sacrificing taste or nutrition (notice how taste is more important than nutrition :P)? My solution to this conundrum: make use of any leftovers and put together something that requires minimum cooking.

The idea of a chicken and quinoa salad isn’t a very new or original one. I just happened to have about half of a roast chicken left over from the weekend. It wasn’t anything special, just a roast chook from my local supermarket. If you don’t have any leftover roast chicken, this could be easily substituted with mildly flavoured grilled chicken pieces. The rest of the ingredients were from the fridge/pantry and were flavours I deemed to fit well together. The result was a light and tasty salad, surprisingly flavoursome given the minimal effort exerted, and has a great mix of textures. You get the bulk from the quinoa and chicken, freshness from the greens, sweetness of the carrots and crunch of nuts, all wrapped up in a light lemony finish. As someone who usually needs carbs to round out a meal, I found this meal to be quite filling and was pleased that I wasn’t craving any carbs after it. A light and satisfying dinner for warmer nights, particularly good for those on a health kick.

RECIPE – Chicken and quinoa salad (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 350g of cooked and shredded chicken meat
  • 1/2  cup quinoa washed
  • 1 cup water (or chicken or vegetable stock if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 100g spinach leaves washed
  • small bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts lightly crushed

Salad dressing:

  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Place washed quinoa and water in a small saucepan and place on medium heat to bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow quinoa to cook through until all water has been absorbed (about 15 minutes).
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan and saute diced carrot on medium heat. Toss carrot around the pan until it is slightly charred then mix in honey until the carrot pieces gleam with a light glaze. Reserve.
  3. To make salad dressing, mix together ingredients and reserve.
  4. If required, heat leftover chicken in microwave until hot and shred meat with fork.
  5. When the quinoa is a minute away from being done, toss spinach into the same saucepan and mix thoroughly with cooked quinoa to wilt the leaves slightly.
  6. To arrange salad; place the spinach and quinoa mixture onto plate and scatter with honeyed carrots, shredded chicken, coriander, crushed hazelnuts and drizzle over dressing. Serve immediately.

I had the audacity to served this dinner to a self professed caveman who isn’t particularly fond of quinoa (he calls it ‘alien looking seeds’), or salads for the matter, but thankfully he rather enjoyed it. The only criticism was that he would have preferred a bit more meat in the mix, but otherwise found it very tasty and satisfying. I’m happy with that assessment, what more praise can a girl expect from a caveman?

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