Quick Healthy Lunch Idea: Chicken and Basil Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Chicken Salad

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I like to cook a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week so that I have it on-hand whenever I need it during the week. This salad is perfect as a brown bag lunch or as a quick dinner for those nights you get home late after work.

Chicken and Basil Quinoa Salad

Serves 2-3

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cooked chicken breast
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
¼ cup roughly chopped pitted kalamata olives
¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

Basil Vinaigrette
1 bunch of basil (approximately 1 1/2 packed cups)
1 clove garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1.    If I’ve roasted a chicken the night before, I’ll use the leftovers in this dish. You  can also buy roast chicken at your grocery store. You can also bake your chicken breast: Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.    Place the chicken breast onto baking tray and bake for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
3.    To determine if your chicken is done, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of a breast (without touching bone). It should register 165 degrees F.
4.    Let the chicken cool for a few minutes, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
5.    Chop the cherry tomatoes in half.
6.    Roughly cup the olives.
7.    Toast the pine nuts in a pan over low heat until they turn lightly brown.
8.    Make the salad dressing: Wash and remove the stems from the basil. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend.
9.    Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and combine with ¼ to ½ of the dressing you’ve made. (You can use the remainder the following night on chicken or fish or in another salad.) Squeeze some lemon juice over the top to help brighten flavor. This tends to be a good idea before reaching for more salt.

Karyn Duggan, Certified Nutrition Consultant & Natural Chef

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