Mediterranean Chicken-Quinoa Salad

I subscribe to The Splendid Table’s Weeknight Kitchen emails which come out every Wednesday, featuring easy-to-prepare recipes. This recipe for Greek Chicken Salad with Lemon, Feta and Grains caught my eye – anything with lemon and feta gets a second look from me! I made it the next night, without the tzatziki, and thought it was a little bland, so made some adaptations for a lunch with friends. We liked it! We served it with a Greek white wine and that beautiful beet hummus brought by friend Ruth. I will get the recipe from her and share with you soon! (Note: I’ve made this salad a few times since my lunch with friends and found that it is great with a dry rose wine also!)

Ingredients – serves 6

1 1/2 cups quinoa (I like red for its looks)

2 1/2 cups water

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced OR  2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil

3/4 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 – 3/4 pound cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, torn or cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Juice of 1 lemon

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1 preserved lemon, peel only, diced OR zest of 1 lemon

Lemon dressing: 2 tablespoons EV olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more to taste

Spring greens salad mix


Cook the quinoa: Rinse quinoa well and place in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Take off the heat, let sit for 10 minutes and then “fluff”. Set aside.

Cook the chicken mixture: In a large saute pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil till shimmering. Add the garlic, scallions and crushed red chili flakes and saute 3-4 minutes. (Alternatively, heat 2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil plus one tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red chili flakes and saute 3-4 minutes.) Add the oregano and the chicken and saute for about 5 more minutes. Add the quinoa and lemon juice and stir to combine thoroughly.  Turn into a large serving bowl and cool to room temperature. At this point, proceed with the following and serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. If refrigerating, let the mixture come to room temperature before finishing the salad.

Finishing the salad: Add the herbs, diced red bell pepper and preserved lemon or lemon zest, stirring to combine. Add the lemon dressing and stir to blend in thoroughly. Here you can add the feta cheese or you can pass a bowl of it after serving so each person can add what they want.

Serving the salad: Place a bed of salad mix on a platter and place the quinoa salad on top of it. Yum!!




Brown Rice Tabbouleh

September 16, 2010

Aunt Suzy says

At S&SK we love salads!  Speaking for myself, I am always looking for unique and interesting grain-based salads.  We’ve posted bulgur, couscous and quinoa salads this summer, but this is the first one with rice.  I spotted this recipe in the most recent Food & Wine.  This seems a little bit like a transition salad from summer to fall – while it has your usual summer ingredient suspects of tomatoes and herbs, it also has dried fruit and nuts and the texture is heavier.  It’s an unusual twist on tabbouleh, containing many layers of flavors and textures.   Enjoy!

Notes on ingredients and quantities:  I used my favorite rice blend, Lundberg’s Wild Blend.  It contains long and short grain brown rice, wild rice, and red and black rice.   If the apricots you are using are already soft, skip the soaking.  I used the dark, very dry turkish kind, so the soaking was essential.   I added currants for a little tartness.   While the recipe called for cherry tomatoes, I made it with regular tomatoes which were still going strong at the stand in my neighborhood.  This is definitely one of those recipes where you can play around the amounts of each ingredient.   I shared the finished product with my friend Joan, and we both agreed it needed something to brighten it up.  She added some lime juice.  Next time I make this, I will add the zest of a lemon as well as the juice and I think I’ll use those great Spicy and Tangy Roasted Almonds from Trader Joe’s.

Serves 10 (!)

2 cups short-grain brown rice

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup dried currants

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds

2 cups chopped parsley (One bunch added up to 2 cups)

1 cup chopped cilantro (1/2 bunch added up to 1 cup)

1/2 cup chopped mint

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved OR

2 – 2 1/2 cups seeded and chopped tomatoes (2 tomatoes added up to 2 1/4 cups)

1/4 cup EV olive oil

Juice (and optional zest) of 1 lemon

Cook the rice.  Here’s a method that I like to use which I learned from my friend Ruby’s Mom, Rifka, who lives in Bombay and is a great cook!  Place the rice in a pan and add the recommended amount of water.  When about 2/3 of the recommended cooking time has elapsed, try a grain or two of the rice to test for doneness.  If it is “al dente”, drain the rice in a strainer and rinse.  Place the rice back in the pan for 10 minutes on low.  Turn off the heat and let sit another 10 minutes, then fluff.  This method makes for a great, non-gummy end product!

Let the rice cool.  Soak the apricots and currants in hot water (separate bowls) for 10 minutes.  Drain both and coarsely chop the apricots.  Place the pine nuts and almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 5 minutes to toast.  Coarsely chop the almonds.

Add the herbs to the rice and stir or toss with your hands till all are blended.  Then add the fruits, nuts, seeds and tomatoes and stir to blend.  Finally, whisk the olive oil and the lemon juice together (and the zest if you are using) and pour over the salad.  Stir until completely blended then add salt and pepper to taste.  I also think that this could make for a great warm salad by not letting the rice cool completely.