Happy Valentines Day, lovelies.
I promise I’m not about to shower you with lovey dovey notes about how much I adore my man, no I think I’ve been doing that enough lately 😉 Instead I’m going to talk about another love of mine…barbecue chicken.
I hope you have some love in your life today, whether in the form of a bunch of flowers from a lover, a sweet little note from a nephew, a love heart chocolate from the elderly lady who lives next door or the sweet, comforting feeling you get from an always dependable piece of barbecue chicken breast. Each to their own, I say.
I’ve been on a mad barbecue chicken run lately.
I have had the most severe cravings for it, and I have no idea why. I’m not pregnant, thats for sure. So maybe we’ll blame the extremely hot weather we’ve been having on and off in Melbourne. Whatever it is, I find myself itching for barbecue chicken multiple times a week. Tearing a chunk of breast away from the charcoal coating and devouring it alongside homemade coleslaw and grilled corn on the cob is currently one of my great pleasures in life.
But then I got tired of coleslaw and corn.
So in looking for yet another way to satisfy my delectable desire, I created this salad. Any excuse to incorporate more barbecue chicken goodness in my life. Like I need it…
But that’s not to say you have to use chicken. A nice salmon fillet, baked and flaked through this salad would be a lovely alternative. As would some beautiful grilled and sliced lamb backstrap or maybe even grilled cubes of marinated tofu. Or chicken. Yeah…chicken.
Warm Chicken Quinoa Salad with Chilli Zucchini and Garlic Broccoli
½ cup* dry Quinoa
½ cup Water
½ cup Chicken Stock (you can use vegetable stock if you wish, or replace the stock with extra water. The stock adds more flavour, so you may wish to add a pinch of salt to the quinoa when cooking if just using water.)
1/2 a Barbecue Chicken (from your local quality charcoal chicken shop, or your own pre-cooked chicken. I always try to go organic, free range with chicken).
1 Red Onion
150g Broccoli (the florets off one small broccoli head)
200g Zucchini (one medium zucchini)
2 handfuls of Spinach Leaves
60g Feta (I use Dodoni Feta, it’s delicious)
Spray Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Dried Chilli Flakes (more if you wish, less if you don’t like heat)
3 small cloves Garlic
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper
1 juicy Lemon, for the juice
* 1/2 cup dry Quinoa will make 2 cups cooked Quinoa, which is more than you need, however I always desire extra quinoa for salads during the week, so at the very least I always cook 1/2 cup quinoa. If you wish, use half the quantity and then half the quantity of water and stock.
1. Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius.
2. Cut the florets off broccoli, halving the large florets. Set aside to use in the next step, when you’re cooking your quinoa.
3. Rinse the dry quinoa under cold water using a fine sieve, then put it in a pot with the stock and water. Bring to the boil then let it simmer down for ~15 minutes, adding more water if required. You will know it is cooked when the grain starts to separate and the water is mostly absorbed. While the quinoa is cooking, place a steamer over your pot and steam your broccoli for 2 minutes, until just tender.
4. When the broccoli is cooked, rinse under cold water to arrest the cooking process, then set aside.
5. When the quinoa is cooked, turn the heat off and pop the lid on for ~10 minutes to allow any remaining water to absorb. After 10 minutes, fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, set aside and allow to cool.
6. Peel the onion and slice it in half, then slice each half into 6-8 long wedges. Add the wedges to the baking tray lined with baking paper. Coat the onion in a little spray oil, then add a scatter of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Pop the tray into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, give your onions a stir and add a little more spray oil if it’s looks a tad dry. Put the tray back into the oven and roast for a further 5-10 minutes until the onion is looking rich and sticky. Remove from the oven and set aside.
7. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add a little spray oil then add the broccoli. Stir frequently for 2 minutes, then add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and cook, stirring to coat all the broccoli in garlic, for an extra minute. Turn off the heat and set aside.
8. Slice the zucchini into half a centimetre rounds. Heat another large non-stick pan over medium heat, then add 2 teaspoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini rounds so that each round is touching the pan – no overlapping or over crowding. You don’t want to stew the pan. You may need to do two or even three batches of zucchini and teaspoons of oil, depending on how large your pan is. Cook the zucchini for 3-4 minutes until golden, then using tongs individually flip each zucchini round (your patience will be rewarded!) and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. If you need to cook another batch, remove the cooked zucchini to a bowl and then cook the remaining rounds. When all the zucchini is cooked, add some spray oil to the pan and then add all the zucchini back in, along with 1 clove of crushed garlic and the chilli flakes. Cook for 30seconds – 1 minute, stirring to coat the zucchini evenly in garlic and chilli. Turn off the heat and set aside.
9. Break up your chicken, discarding the skin. Set aside.
10. Now combine your ingredients in a large bowl! Start with the quinoa: fluff it again with a fork and then add 1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked quinoa to the bowl, depending on your hunger level and energy requirements. Next add the spinach leaves, broccoli and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the bowl, and gently toss to combine. Finally add the chicken along with the zucchini, onion and feta to the bowl. Give all the ingredients a final gentle toss to combine everything.
11. Serve into individual bowls and enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine. Yes please.