This easy chicken quinoa salad recipe starts with chicken breast fillets marinated in apple cider vinegar and then grilled. While the chicken cooks, I prep the salad, tossing the cooked quinoa with the vegetables and vinaigrette.
Super easy chicken quinoa salad recipe
This is a hearty meal-sized salad that’s full of healthy ingredients. Kale, quinoa, radishes, purple cabbage, crisp apples, raisins, and pinenuts are all tossed in a tangy and flavorful cumin-apple vinaigrette.
How to cook quinoa
The first trick to cooking perfect quinoa is to use double the amount of water as quinoa. Second, cook the quinoa with the pot uncovered. The cooking time varies depending on how large or small a batch you are cooking. A smaller quantity of quinoa will take less time to cook. Cook until the water is completely absorbed and then cover the pot and let it steam for about 5 minutes.
Grilled Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Apple-Cumin Vinaigrette
I used red quinoa, but you can use whatever type you have on hand. Do be sure to use lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale rather than the curly type, which isn't tender enough to serve raw.
For the chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast fillets (about 1 ¼ pounds)
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
For the quinoa
- ¾ cup quinoa
- 1 ½ cups water
- 3 tablespoons raisins
For the vinaigrette
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Granny Smith apple peeled and diced small
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the salad
- 4 radishes trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced
- ½ bunch lacinato or dinosaur kale julienned
- ¼ head red cabbage julienned
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts for garnish
- To prepare the chicken, season the fillets generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place them in a dish and pour the vinegar over them. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is marinating, cook the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the grains are tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the raisins.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Heat a lightly oiled grill or grill pan to medium-high heat (you could also use an oven-safe skillet). Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade, and grill until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the oven (if you are using an oven-safe skillet or grill pan, you can transfer the whole thing to the oven. Otherwise, place the chicken in a baking dish.) Cook for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/8-inch-thick pieces.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the vinaigrette and the salad. To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, honey, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Stir in the apple and let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir in the olive oil.
- To make the salad, add the radishes, kale, and cabbage to the quinoa and mix well. Add the dressing and toss until well combined.
- Serve the salad in individual serving bowls and top with the chicken strips. Garnish with the pine nuts and serve immediately.