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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Punched Up Whole Grain Quinoa Salad

I follow one of the blogs on the Whole Foods website and came across a recipe that I thought, with a few tweaks would be right up our alley.  Here is the original recipe.

I used whole grain quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), fresh chicken instead of store bought rotisserie (but that is a great idea if you are pressed for time), added some goodies I thought would punch up the flavors (feta, rice vinegar, cumin, lime) and used red grapes instead of green for a brighter presentation.
I poached the chicken in a flavorful broth (cumin, lemongrass, ginger) and then used the broth to make the quinoa.  It’s a pretty adaptable recipe. You could use other spices, goat cheese instead of feta, orange slices or apple cubes instead of grapes...  Let me know if you try something that works well.

Punched Up Whole Grain Quinoa Salad
Serves 5 as main course; approximately 394 calories, 38 grams carbs, 15 grams fat, 31 grams protein per serving

1 pound boneless, skinless breast of chicken, sliced into thin strips 
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced thinly
1 TBSP finely chopped ginger
4 tsp ground cumin, divided
Ground black pepper
1 cup whole grain quinoa
1 ½  cup red seedless grapes, halved
½ cup roasted almonds, chopped roughly
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP rice vinegar
2 oz reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
Lime slices, whole grapes, whole almonds for garnish (optional)

Bring the broth, lemongrass, ginger, 2 tsp of cumin, and black pepper to a boil and add chicken.  Bring back to a boil and turn off heat.  Let chicken soak in broth for 15 minutes, remove chicken and strain and save broth.

Rinse quinoa first if so directed.  My whole grain quinoa doesn’t require rinsing.  Make quinoa per package directions, using the reserved broth as the liquid (add more chicken broth if needed).  

Move to serving bowl to cool.

When quinoa has cooled, add chicken, feta, grapes and almonds.  Whisk together olive oil, rice vinegar, and remaining 2 tsp cumin. Add dressing to quinoa mix and stir gently to combine.  Drizzle lime juice over salad and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve at room temperature or chilled, alone or over chopped greens (lettuce, chard, arugula…).  Tangy feta and lime, smoky cumin, sweet grapes, tender chicken, satisfying quinoa....all good and good for you!
I served this at room temperature alongside my Asian Chard Salad.


  1. Susie all your meals are so healthy and make me feel so guilty! You definitely inspire me to change my eating habits. Who knows, maybe I'll start my yoga class again:)
    Beautiful presentation, and looks very appetizing too.You used a great combination of flavors as well.

  2. Wow - looks delicious! I especially like the diverse blend of flavors. I haven't worked with quinoa yet, altho I'm itching to try - is the flavor and texture similar to couscous or millet?

  3. @Arlene-thanks-they aren't all healthy, especially if we go out to eat! But I do try for the 80/20 rule (80% healthy, 20% optional healthy or not)

    @Steph-I love it, it will definitely be a go to recipe. Quinoa-I would say more hearty than couscous but similar texture. Millet, I haven't tried. It's just as easy though to use. Give it a go!