February 24, 2014

EAT: chicken pesto quinoa salad

For me, eating healthy is always a challenge for a multitude of reasons (one being that I love yummy food), including options that are limited and boooooooring.  Enter - the chicken pesto quinoa salad!  Hearty and delicious.  Does quinoa count as a carb?  I mean, it's a seed.  But it's also packed with protein.  I'm not sure what I'm getting at here besides I think you should try this salad if you're trying to eat healthy and are running out of options.

If you're looking for the pesto, it's homemade (yum!) and mixed in with the quinoa part.  I like to make sure the quinoa is warm before I plop the mixture on the salad - makes for a much more satisfying meal (hot and cold!).  I used a rotisserie chicken from Central Market to save time.  If you're really strapped for time (and who isn't?), grab a jar of ready made pesto as well.

Ingredients (no exact measurements - throw as much of each as you'd like on your salad):

- Rotisserie chicken (I bought this pre-made at Central Market)
- Arugula or other salad base (I used arugula and spinach)
- Garbanzo beans, drained
- Radishes, sliced thinly
- Avocado, halved and sliced
- Baby cucumbers, chopped
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- parsley for garnish
- olive oil
- salt and pepper

Fresh Pesto (use a jar of ready made pesto if you don't have time for this).  Recipe from foodnetwork.com
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


- For the pesto: combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add 2/3 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

- Put the cooked quinoa into a cup and mix with desired amount of pesto (I used roughly 2 tsp.) and chopped cucumbers.  Put to the side.

- Take the salad mixture and toss with olive oil (roughly 1 tbsp. - a little goes a long way!) and salt and pepper. 

- Assemble the salad at the bottom of a plate, followed by chunks of chicken, radish slices, avocado and garbanzo beans.  Top the salad with the pesto quinoa mix (I used a ramekin to shape it).  Garnish with parsley. 

ENJOY! gobble gobble
xoxo, NB

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