lunchbox life: buffalo chicken quinoa salad

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ONE MORE WEEK OF SCHOOL!  I have had a great year of school, but every teacher (and student, for that matter) yearns for that final afternoon dismissal bell in May.  Unfortunately, this will be my last lunchbox life post for a little while, but I’ll be back on August 1!

I found several different versions of this recipe on Pinterest, so I combined a few different ideas and settled on this one.  Have you ever tried quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”)?  It’s an earthy grain that’s rich in protein and fiber, and it works well as an alternative to pasta in salads.  It seems kind of strange to pair a super healthy grain with something junk food-worthy like buffalo sauce, but it’s a really tasty combination!  I served this on a bed of mache greens, which look and taste a lot like baby spinach, and added some deliciously in-season strawberries.

Salad:
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 green onions, chopped

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup buffalo sauce (Frank’s or your choice)
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse quinoa under cold running water. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, combine quinoa and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, hot sauce, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside.

Heat a saucepan  over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes or until nearly cooked through. Add the broccoli and saute for about 2-3 minutes or until bright green and slightly tender. Remove from heat and stir in carrots and celery. Add about 1/3 of the buffalo sauce and stir.

Transfer the chicken and veggies to the bowl with the quinoa and toss with the remaining dressing. Add the blue cheese and the green onions. Toss again and serve warm or chilled.

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