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Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil
10-12 min. (plus cooling)
- 1 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
- 3 cups quartered grape or cherry tomatoes (from about 1 1/2 pints)
- 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, chopped
- 2 cups diced, cooked chicken breasts (see note)
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions. After cooking, allow to cool, then fluff with a fork. (If serving as a warm, main-dish salad, allow to cool just enough that the basil and spinach won't wilt when added and the cheese won't melt.)
- In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, tomatoes, spinach, chicken, basil, walnuts, parmesan, and garlic. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until serving.
Chicken: Nearly any boneless, skinless chicken breasts will work in this recipe, as long as they're not overly flavorful from spices or marinades. A store-bought rotisserie chicken is an easy option, or you can plan ahead and cook a couple of extra chicken breasts whenever you're making chicken, so you have extra cooked chicken for this recipe without any extra work.
Make-Ahead Tip: This recipe can easily be made in advance and refrigerated until serving. It makes a large bowl of salad – perfect for sharing at a party, or for storing leftovers in the fridge for lunches and snacks throughout the week.
For a Vegetarian Version: You can simply omit the chicken completely, especially as the quinoa offers so much protein. Or, you can offer the diced chicken on the side, and diners can mix some in if they choose.
Not Sure How to Zest a Lemon?: Check out our post on the easiest way to (and grate other stuff, too!).