Quinoa Chicken Salad

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My goal this school year is to spend Sundays preparing fresh, healthy lunches and snacks for the work week. I met my goal this Sunday and spent five hours making a pot of turkey chili, a large container of this quinoa salad, a large bowl of fruit salad, a pot of tomato soup, orange scented granola, a small pot of honey/coconut oil/butter for my husband’s toast, and a crustless quiche.

But back to this recipe! My lovely, new assistant teacher brought in quinoa salad for both of us during the work week before opening day. I loved it instantly! and her. This salad is light, full of protein and crunchy vegetables, and combines the sweet with the salty. I adapted this recipe from the Clean Eating recipe she shared with me.

Quinoa Salad with Chicken

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

4C cooked and cooled quinoa

1# chicken breast

½C currants or dried cranberries

½C pumpkin seeds

1C chopped carrots

½C chopped, fresh mint

½C chopped, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

½C chopped scallions

1 red pepper, chopped

Dressing:

½C fresh lime juice (3 limes)

¾C EVOO

3t honey

1t ground cumin

2t sea salt

Directions:

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. It’s generally a 2:1 ratio – water:quinoa. Allow to cool. While the quinoa is cooking, grill or steam the chicken breasts. Remove from steamer and let cool, then chop into bite-sized dice and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.

In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, chicken, vegetables and dressing. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings.

Serve chilled.

I’m an EGGhead.

Our old Vermont Castings gas grill recently decided to give in to the inevitable. and die…It was sad. We’ve cooked many a steak, vegetables, and burgers on that grill. When we first saw the gas grill in the showroom, the glossy blue paint and the wrought iron fancy nameplate was calling us. It was big enough to cook for over 20 people at a time. It even lasted nearly 8 years before sacrificing itself. Thank you, Vermont Castings. You did good.

Enter the Big Green Egg.

I had it steady at 250° for 3.5 hours – the perfect temperature for smoking ribs.

A friend of mine has been talking about the Big Green Egg (BGE for short) for a couple years now, but I really didn’t know what it was other than an egg shaped grill. I had no idea of it’s capabilities, it’s versatility, and how delicious the food is that when cooked in it. When our grill died this spring my husband, Todd, and I decided that a Big Green Egg might be a great anniversary present to each other. Time to research. I read about the BGE online, heard more testimonials about how great it was, but I still wasn’t entirely sure.

I made a trip to Yankee Fireplace in Middleton and talked at some length about the BGE with the salesperson and the owner. Yankee had about fifty different grills; charcoal, gas, stainless steel, enamel, built-ins, free-standing, anything you can think of to cook food outdoors and in style was at this shop, including the BGE in various sizes. In fact, the BGE had its own section! Shelves of accessories and tools were right in front of me to explore. After a few minutes of chatting about the benefits of the BGE, I knew it was the right grill for us. I just had to decide on the size (a Large BGE), hand over some cash, wait for a forklift to get it into my dad’s truck, and ask Todd to put it together. Easy, right? It actually was. After adding on the necessary accessories like the large Plate Setter, a Grid Lifter, an Ash Pusher, an embroidered BGE cover, a tiered rack with drip tray so I can cook in two layers (totally necessary when entertaining), and a large bag of wood charcoal I was all set and ready to go. Phew.

Truck loaded.

Kate waiting at home to help me unload. All set.

Driving home with all these accessories and boxes I was getting a little nervous about the Egg. So much STUFF, so many expectations, and a big price tag. What if I couldn’t work with it? Burnt food?

I was a little intimidated the first time we decided to cook on it. Todd lit it, and after ten minutes it was ready to go. It’s unlike any grill we’ve ever cooked on. It’s amazing. I was surprised that I was able to regulate the temperature so easily and it only took ten minutes to be ready. The first experiment was, nothing too daunting (insert chuckle)… I would slow cook pork ribs and bake a corn bread. Not cook a burger. Not cook a piece of chicken, but smoke ribs and bake bread. The ribs and cornbread came out great! Success! And, the good thing about being successful is that you want to do it more often.

This weekend I roasted a whole chicken. It was delicious, moist, and very flavorful. Five pounds for about 100 minutes with a steady temperature of 350°.

You many not be told this by friends that have a BGE because all they talk about is how good the food is, blah blah blah, and I agree, but for me the best thing about the BGE is it uses very little charcoal, is energy efficient, and leaves hardly any ash. The BGE charcoal contains no by-products, chemical fillers or petroleum additives. Big bonus.

Hello my name is Kimberley and I love my Big Green Egg.

I’m an EGGhead. And I’m ok with it.

Roasted chicken from The FARM Institute, Martha’s Vineyard. This five pound pasture raised chicken was roasted at 350° for about an hour and forty minutes then covered with a store-bought raspberry-chipotle sauce the last 5 minutes of cooking. The chicken came out moist, delicious, and golden!
An awesome cookbook I’m excited to check out.

For more information on the Big Green Egg, click here.