A tasty simple salad with quinoa, veggies and grilled chicken tossed in a creamy Dijon mustard dressing.
I feel like I’ve been a little slow at getting out my first post of 2019 for you guys. The truth is I was on vacation and didn’t want to start bombarding you with healthy(ish) recipes right after the stroke of midnight on the 31st.
I know a new year always comes with thoughts of resolutions and self-improvement and yes December was a heavy month of cookies and desserts for the blog. But I’ve always tried to build Foodness Gracious on a plan of making easy recipes with decent fresh ingredients.
So for this month and the coming year, I’ll be adding more easy family dinners, summer salads and of course some awesome baked treats. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me make along the way!
Why use quinoa for a chicken quinoa salad?
Quinoa has been around forever. It was an important crop for the Incas from Bolivia and Chile thousands of years ago, and still is to this day. It’s fairly easy to grow and can be found in three different varieties, red, white and black. The colors don’t really define any huge flavor changes though.
Quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein, so it makes a great base for any salad or main course meal. It usually always calls to be cooked in water but I prefer to use stock which adds extra flavor. It’s not particularly low carb although it is low glycemic so no major sugar spikes.
It’s also really easy to cook and is ready to serve in about 15 minutes. Make it ahead and store in the fridge for easy quick lunches or as an addition to some salmon or roasted veggies. It’ll last in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Can I use another protein for my chicken quinoa salad?
Easily! If you’re a vegetarian you can load up with roasted veggies or some garlic pan fried mushrooms. Seared skirt steak sliced really thinly would be amazing too! Don’t forget any seafood options like grilled shrimp, scallops or baked salmon. These are great ideas for easy lunches or a healthy dinner after a hard workout at the gym! Quinoa will fill you up without giving you that bloated feeling that sometimes I feel with rice.
Quinoa is your lifesaver!
Have you ever opened your fridge and just groaned at the amount of produce and stuff that you don’t want to waste? Quinoa is a great reason to cook up as many leftovers as you can and then toss them with the cooked quinoa and some of your favorite salad dressing. You’ve just created an easy and probably super healthy meal that might have gone in the trash a few days later.
Dressing mixed in or on the side for your chicken quinoa salad?
Usually, I’d always recommend using only enough dressing to lightly flavor the salad, but quinoa is dry so it can take a lot of dressing. It’s really up to you so begin by adding half and then add more if you prefer. It also depends on how quickly you think you’ll finish this salad, a couple of days will be fine with dressing but any longer and I’d add it closer to the date you end up eating it.
Check out these other awesome quinoa salad recipes, and as always let me know if you make any recipes! Make sure to tag me @foodnessgracious on Instagram. I love to see what you guys are making!
- Mushrooms with Quinoa Herbs and Garlic
- Scallops with an Orange Quinoa Salsa Dressing
- Quinoa and Feta Salad
- Salmon Quinoa Bowl
- Quinoa Salad with Spinach and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Chicken Quinoa Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3/4 cup red pepper diced
- 1/2 cup green onion sliced
- 1 cup zucchini diced
- 1 cup fresh watercress
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- roasted peanuts chopped
For the Dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 3 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Preheat the grill to high.
- Cook the quinoa as per the directions on the pack. Once cooked let it cool while you cook the chicken.
- Drizzle the chicken thighs with the olive oil on both sides.
- Season the chicken with your favorite spice or bbq rub.
- Grill the chicken on both sides until slightly crispy on the outside and fully cooked all the way through. Transfer to a plate and let rest.
- Transfer the cooled quinoa to a large bowl and add the red pepper, green onion, and zucchini.
- Trim the stems from the watercress and add the leaves to the bowl also.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, sour cream, mustard and lemon juice.
- Add the cilantro and pepper and mix through.
- Slice the chicken thighs thinly.
- Add as much dressing to the quinoa mixture and toss together with a spatula or tongs.
- Transfer to a large platter or individual bowls or plates and top with some of the grilled chicken strips.
- Garnish with some of the roasted chopped peanuts if desired.