Light Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad
A light and healthy citrus salad with creamy avocados, chunks of white meat chicken, mandarin oranges, and fresh cilantro. This chicken quinoa salad is so filling and still lighter on the calories!
Bright citrus flavor in my chicken quinoa salad. This salad is packed with protein, loaded with mandarin oranges, bright flavor from cilantro, and creamy avocados. If that’s not enough, the fresh lime dressing will have you falling in love for sure. This salad is serious business. Be prepared to be full for hours!
But first, you guys, i’m feeling a little blue today. And it’s not just because i’ve been working with blueberries. I’ve had 2 failed attempts at blueberry baked goods this week, so i’m not feeling my hottest. Attempt #1 was blueberry muffins and attempt #2 was a blueberry loaf. The loaf was probably the worser of the two. It resembled a custard more than a loaf. The top was nice and golden but the minute you popped out that loaf it was mushy all over. *Sigh* I don’t think anyone reading the blog cares for soggy muffins/loaf so I think i’ll just keep at it until it’s perfect.
Have I told you guys about my hanger issues? That’s right, I get hangry. If you’re giving the computer screen a look of ‘um..what’, allow me to explain. Hangry is the word used when someone gets angry from hunger. Tell me i’m not the only one. That’s where this chicken quinoa salad comes in.
Quinoa is a superfood. And errbody knows how good it is to consume superfood. Who would I need to contact if I needed to have chocolate and peanut butter added to that list. Is there a superfood committee that i’m not aware of? Anywho, quinoa is loaded with fiber and protein which are both very important for fullness. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of quinoa when I first started incorporating it into my diet. It tasted kind of like cheap soap to me in terms of flavor. Don’t ask me how I know what cheap soap states like. The key is to use lots of flavor. Have you tried my quinoa tabbouleh? It’s quick, easy, and it’s the perfect side to any meal.
You’ll need a total of 2 cups of cooked quinoa for this salad recipe. Quinoa is really easy to prepare. Here’s the guide I use, and it comes out perfect, every single time.
The dressing is what really makes this chicken quinoa salad all nice and bright. It’s as simple as whisking together a little fresh lime juice, some honey, olive oil, chopped fresh cilantro, and just a bit of orange juice. Toss it all in a mason jar, screw on the lid and give it a few good shakes. <– this was the perfect stress reliever after that blueberry loaf incident. The fresh flavors really help make these cold winter days a little nicer.
This recipe makes plenty! Anees and I usually enjoy a serving each for dinner and again for lunch the next day. I usually just steam some broccoli or sauté zucchini with this citrus quinoa salad to get in some veggies.
I have a feeling you’re really gonna love this chicken quinoa salad. Light, refreshing, and packed with flavor.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes
- 5 cloves roasted garlic, chopped (see notes)
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (15 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
- Place the quinoa in a large bowl and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken along with the roasted garlic. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and salt and allow the chicken to cook through, about 6-8 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, mandarin oranges, avocado, and 1/4 cup of cilantro to the bowl with the quinoa. Stir; set aside.
- For the dressing: Place lime juice, honey, orange juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1/4 cup of cilantro in a mason jar and give it a few good shakes until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour the dressing over the salad when ready to serve.
- I used 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa to yield 2 cups cooked. I cook my quinoa using these directions.
- Roasted garlic can be found in jars in the International food aisle in most grocery stores.
- To roast your own garlic: Heat an oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Peel off most of the paper from the garlic, leaving the head intact with the cloves attached. Trim the top off the head of garlic by ¼ inch. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the exposed surface, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake for 40 minutes. Check the garlic, it is done when the center clove is completely soft with pierced with a paring knife. Continue roasting for an additional 5 -10 minutes to help deepen the golden color and caramelize further. Exact roasting time may vary due to size. Garlic can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to 3 months.
- Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.