Feasting at Home : Quinoa Chicken Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Aug 29, 2013

Quinoa Chicken Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes



Think of this as "end-of-summer salad" when tomatoes are sweet and ripe and just at their peak. Or for my teacher friends, a "back-to-school" salad, because it's easy to whip up in big batches and have on hand when days are too short and full to cook. It's also very packable, holding up well even on the 2nd and 3rd day, making it perfect for a bring-to-work lunch.  It's versatile, in that can be modified to your own personal preferences.... and can easily be made vegan by substituting crispy tofu for the chicken. Cooked quinoa, chicken, chick peas, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes, fresh parsley and mint, are tossed with a lemony vinaigrette and served with your favorite greens. Sometimes I'll add fresh mozzarella  as well. Packed with three different proteins, this energizes the body and mind without leaving you feeling heavy or sleepy.  During our hectic wedding season, still underway, I like to make a big bowl of this, knowing that when I come home from work, there is something in the fridge, ready to eat. 






I try to make the quinoa ahead, or the night before so it can cool over night in the fridge before tossing with the rest of the ingredients. Normally I'll use left over chicken or tofu as well.



But the star of this salad are the in-season, heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs.



Last year I planted an herb patch. It has become one of the best investments ever. Our backyard gets  a little sun and the only thing that seems to thrive are herbs, so most of our garden boxes have been slowly replaced with herbs, which we use in prolifically at home and in our catering business.

One part of my garden has a patch of mint. This is no ordinary mint. When I was a little girl, my parents bought a home in Southern California, and my mom planted mint on the side of the house for when she would make tabouli. Well, eventually, after years and years, the mint spread and overtook the entire side of the house. When the windows were open we could smell the fragrant mint wafting through the air.
Thirty five years later, the time came when we had to sell my parents house and as a keepsake, I dug up a little bit of my mom's mint and brought it back home and planted in my own garden. Today, I have the same mint growing here, that my mom planted all those years ago. I wish she could feel how happy it makes me to cook with something that originated from her. Perhaps she can.



Another fresh herb that I like to have on hand is fresh flat leaf parsley. I planted a small patch of it a few years ago, and every year since, it has reseeded itself. The cost of one seed packet costs about the same as one bunch of parsley at the grocery store. A very good investment indeed. 



The lemon zest in the salad brightens this up so pleasantly.







Serve the quinoa salad just like it is- or over a bed a greens.





I recently started posting my recipes on Pinterest and would love to have you take a look at some of my Pinterest boards. Pinterest really helps spread the word about my blog. Every time you "pin" a photo, it links it to back to this recipe. It's a great way to save recipes on your own boards and share with friends…so get pinning!!


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Quinoa Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes




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Quinoa Chicken Salad with Heirloom tomatoes

Ingredients:
  • 1 C Quinoa- rinsed 
  • 1 lb cooked seasoned chicken ( or seared tofu, or cooked garbanzo beans) 
  • 1 lb heirloom tomatoes- halved or diced 
  • 1 can rinsed, drained chick peas
  • 1 C chopped packed Italian parsley
  • 1/4 C chopped packed mint 
  • 1/4 C finely diced onion 
  •  zest from one lemon 
  • 1-2 C Arugula or Mizuna  (optional)
  • 8 oz small mozzarella balls ( halved)- optional 
 Dressing:
  • 1/4 C plus 1 T olive oil 
  • 1/8 C red wine vinegar 
  • 1/8 C fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • Cracked pepper 
  • 2 minced garlic cloves 
  • pinch sugar 
Instructions:
Rinse Quinoa and place in medium pot with 1 3/4 Cup water and 1/2 tsp salt on high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low, and cook covered 15-20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with fork and cool in fridge, overnight or for 1 hour. 


To make dressing, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

When quinoa has chilled, place in large bowl, fluff with fork. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, chicken or tofu, herbs, zest, onion and mozzarella balls ( optional). Toss with dressing. If you like, place it on top of a bed of greens like arugula or mixed lettuces.

Details:Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8

8 comments:

  1. I love the story about your mom's mint! I am sure somehow she feels your happniess!
    The salad is beautiful!

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  2. Aww, so sweet, that mint must be so special. Love the gorgeous salad.

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    Replies
    1. The mint IS special. Such a simple thing, but brings me so much happiness.

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  3. I made this last week, but with brown gluten free couscous. It was good. Then this week I combined it with this kale salad http://jellytoastblog.com/2013/08/kale-salad-with-roasted-salmon.html/#comment-2718 . It was really good too. Thanks for the recipe

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  4. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and sent it to my mom to try out. Thank you for posting this delicious-looking recipe!

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  5. I'll be watching for the recipe. I can't wait to try it for my friend. Thanks for all you do.

    ReplyDelete

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