Quinoa Chicken Salad with Vegetables: A Quick Meal for Every Season

Quinoa Chicken Salad

This is the second day for this Quinoa Chicken Salad, so the bowl is only about two-thirds full now. We love it.
This is the second day for this Quinoa Chicken Salad, so the bowl is only about two-thirds full now. We love it. | Source

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5 stars from 4 ratings of Quinoa Chicken Salad

Quinoa Chicken Salad Is A Favorite Recipe

I suppose most people have a favorite recipe they fall back on when they can't decide what to have for lunch or dinner. Ours is Chicken Qunioa Salad, or one of my many variations of it. We are retired and self-employed, and work at home, so we have our main meal at lunch time. I often don't have a lot of time to cook, so I often just make this. One recipe normally lasts us about three days as a main dish.

I make it easier for myself by having all the ingredients on hand. I buy the double packs of broiled chicken strips at Costco and keep about two-three packs in the freezer. They are easy to thaw when I need them. I normally cook one cup of quinoa a week and freeze half. Each half batch will make one recipe of the salad. I use whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand. At various times I use sweet red or green bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers. I have also added canned olives or artichoke hearts. (I prefer Trader Joe's unmarinated whole artichoke hearts packed in water. Your taste may be different.)

If you have you chicken and quinoa already cooked, about all that's left on the day you make the salad is to cut up the chicken and vegetables, make the salad dressing if necessary, and mix the ingredients together.

One reason we serve this so often is because we have to watch what we eat. We prepare the Italian dressing with extra-virgin olive oil. The quinoa (pronounce KEEN-WA) itself is one of the most nutritious of all grains, high in fiber and protein. It contains all eight essential amino acids, and is a good source of iron. I cup of cooked quinoa contains no cholesterol, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of protein, and only 2 mg of sodium. Even with the chicken, it's a light meal. It can be served with a green salad or crisply raw carrots or radishes, and bread, for a complete meal any doctor should approve. If you don't want to eat meat, you can substitute black beans for the chicken.

We like this so much we eat it in every season. In winter we will sometimes serve it in smaller portions as a side dish for a hot soup lentil or split pea soup. But it is really refreshing on a hot summer day. I normally cook the quinoa the night before I need it so it can chill. At the same time I let the frozen chicken breast strips thaw. If you have it left over, all you have to do is pull it out of the refrigerator and eat, with no fuss at all except getting anything you want to serve with it ready.

Preparation Time

Prep time: 30 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Serves 6 adults generously as a main dish.

Some Handy Things to Have

Bob's Red Mill Organic White Quinoa, 26-ounce
Bob's Red Mill Organic White Quinoa, 26-ounce

This is the brand of quinoa I always use. Since it's prewashed, all I have to do is put a cup in a 2-quart saucepan with 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. I let it sit for another few minutes after I turn off the burner. Then I divide in half and put half in the refrigerator to chill and freeze the other half until I need it.

 
Anchor Hocking 3 Piece Casserole Glass Bakeware Set with Bonus 2 Piece Kitchen Tool Set
Anchor Hocking 3 Piece Casserole Glass Bakeware Set with Bonus 2 Piece Kitchen Tool Set

This contains one bowl just right for making the salad, and two bowls the right size to hold leftovers as you eat the salad. They are, of course, also good for making casseroles and holding any other leftovers you may have. All three bowls have lids, and you get a bonus slotted spoon and serving spoon. It's a great deal with the Super Saver shipping.

 
Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 2-1/2-Quart Saucepan with Glass Lid
Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 2-1/2-Quart Saucepan with Glass Lid

I like this pan because you can watch grains and other foods cook, and know if they are about to boil over so you can prevent it.

 

Main Ingredients for Quinoa Chicken Salad

These are the ingredients I normally use when making my Quinoa Chicken Salad.
These are the ingredients I normally use when making my Quinoa Chicken Salad. | Source

Ingredients

  • 3 cups quinoa, already cooked and chilled
  • 8 oz chicken breast, cooked and chilled
  • 3 cups mixed fresh vegetables chosen from red or green sweet peppers, celery, red onion, or cucumbers, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup or more, according to taste, dry-toasted slivered almonds
  • Add to taste, Italian salad dressing of your choice

Preparation tips.

  1. Make salad dressing if you don't have it prepared. I normally use packaged Good Seasons Italian Dressing, which I have to mix.
  2. Cut cooked chicken breast into bite sized pieces.
  3. Chop or dice the fresh vegetables you want to use. One of my favorite combinations is sweet red pepper, celery, and cucumbers. Sometimes I also add halved canned black olives or chopped artichoke hearts if I have some.
  4. Mix chicken, cooked quinoa, chopped vegetables, crumbled Feta, and almonds in large serving bowl of at least 8 cups. That's what I used here and it came to the top.
  5. Add about 1/2 cup of the Italian dressing to the salad and mix well.
  6. Chill until ready to serve.
  7. Make additional Feta cheese and Italian dressing available on table for those who want to add more.

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Comments 32 comments

Dale Hyde profile image

Dale Hyde 4 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

Wow, stumbled upon this recipe after your recent forum post. Awesome! I am getting hungry now! I have never prepared or experienced a Quinoa Chicken Salad, but I am going to have to now. Recipe looks easy to follow and it is well presented! Voted up and useful!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Dale, When I share this recipe, I feel like I'm sharing one of my best, since it's one thing my husband doesn't get tired of. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

I've just become familiar with quinoa and came upon this recipe. Sounds like a good way to use quinoa and will give this a try!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Ms Dee, we are experimenting with it by substituting it for rice in many recipes. Doesn't work very well in Spanish Rice, but works instead of rice when it's intended to accompany a meat dish that has some sort of sauce that goes over it. It would also work in pilaf, I believe.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Quinoa is new to me, but it looks delicious. Thank you for sharing...


blessedmombygrace profile image

blessedmombygrace 4 years ago

Oh yum, I will try this soon! Repinned it too. Thanks!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Always Exploring, once you see how versatile it is, I think you'll love it. Just be sure to get the kind that's been prewashed. It saves a lot of time.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

blessedmombygrace, thanks. I really appreciate the repin.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Hello WannaB. I do not eat chicken but love quinoa so I came by anyway. I will make this without the chicken, perhaps with tofu or tempeh. Thanks for the great recipe. It looks wonderful and tasty.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Hyphenbird,

Black beans are a good substitute for chicken, as well. We often have it that way.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

I've never had Quinoa but I will get some to try your recipe, it sounds like the sort of thing we like to eat too

Thank you for sharing


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Rosemary, if your family eats rice, they will probably also enjoy quinoa in recipes. Enjoy.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Oh yes this is just what I need on my 'not going very well diet.'

Thanks and I'll let you know how I get on.

Take care and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Eddy, hope it works for you. It's sure helping us.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

Sounds like the perfect lunch for these hot spring/summer days in Mexico.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Claudia, you're right. It is perfect for hot days. I'm having it today for guests whose arrival time is uncertain. When they arrive, all I have to do is pull this out of the refrigerator and we eat, since it does serve as a main dish.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

Oh! Great idea to serve a cold main dish when entertaining, it makes things a lot less stressful.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

It was less stressful, since they arrived much later than we had expected. All we had to do was pull the salad out, heat some rolls, and pull out a plate of fresh cherries and strawberries to serve with it. All the time our guests were there we could concentrate on visiting, not cooking.


LauraGT profile image

LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

Looks fantastic. I love quinoa, and this looks like an interesting, fresh, fast preparation. Thanks for sharing.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Laura, if you love quinoa, you should enjoy this salad.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Florida, USA

We made this recipe several times throughout July and loved it. You did a great job making it easy to read. We ate it by itself, with pitas, and once over hot spaghetti. I am sharing it in my hub, "Favorite Recipes of July". Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

EyesStraightAhead, thank you very much for helping me share this. I'm glad you enjoyed it. We had it for lunch today, using tuna to replace chicken.


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

Interesting plant, I found out somewhere that quinoa not a true grain. I wish we could have that here in my place. It looks good and appetizing! Thanks for sharing. :)


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I need to cook Quinoa more often as I know how healthful it is. This recipe looks super and love all the ingredients. Certainly worth trying. Thanks for sharing it.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

It's very easy to make and quinoa is not hard to find.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Carol, I still make a batch about once a week. My husband never gets tired of it.


SandyMertens profile image

SandyMertens 14 months ago from Frozen Tundra

This looks really good. Plus healthy too.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 11 months ago from Templeton, CA Author

It's very healthy, but it's also tasty and flexible so that you can use whatever you have on hand.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 11 months ago from the short journey

An easy make ahead salad (or at least nearly) that's a meal or a side and has quinoa--thanks! Always looking for ways to use quinoa and I think the red/white varieties would look great in this salad.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 11 months ago from Templeton, CA Author

I've never used red, but I'll bet it would make it more attractive. Thanks for the idea.


SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 3 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

Quinoa is something that I've never gotten into and, honestly, I'm not sure I've tried it at all. This recipe sounds perfect, though, and filling for a main dish salad. Guess it's about time I spread my Arkansas wings a bit and try something new!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 6 days ago from Templeton, CA Author

I eat this a lot in hot weather and I had it twice last week.

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