I love a salad bowl. Clearly. And at this time of the year a grilled chicken salad is what I feel like eating most of the time. This is also delicious with a boiled egg or some haloumi (seared in a non stick pan) instead of the chicken if you’re into a more vegetarian vibe.
This salad is all about the greens. In all their different textures and flavours. We’ve got crunchy beans, fresh grated zucchini, crispy lettuce, little spears of asparagus, some sweet baby peas, that refreshing burst of cucumber and the creamy avocado.
And then there’s the pesto dressing. It’s a basic bail pesto but I make it using almonds instead of pine nuts because I love the flavour, they’re a source of calcium and vitamin E and they’re way cheaper than pine nuts and I’m not miss money bags over here. I’ve also used sunflower seeds in pesto and they work really well too. I sometimes replace 1/2 a cup of the basil with kale in this pesto and it tastes great too. Kale and lemon work really well together as the lemon helps your body process the iron found in kale. Also, kale contains all lots of carotenoids (antioxidants) that are fatu soluble so chucking it in a pesto with things like parmesan and olive oil or with avocado in a salad is great way to get the most out of it. BUT basil also contains lots of antioxidants so you’re winning either way!
Let’s also have a quick chat about that chicken! It’s so simple and flavoursome and quick to cook. This is the perfect weeknight salad especially as the quinoa will help you feel full.
2 Chicken breasts
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp oil
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or 1/2 of dried)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 x zucchini, finely grated
4 cups shredded lettuce (ice berg, cos or romaine)
2 cups green beans, trimmed
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
1 cup baby peas, frozen
1 cucumber, sliced
1 avocado, finely sliced
1/2 cup finely sliced spring onion
2 cups cooked quinoa
lemon wedges to serve
1.5 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 cup almonds
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbs water
Marinate Chicken: Place chicken breasts between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and flatten using a mallet or pestle until approximately 1 cm thick. Cut into 4 portions (doesn’t matter if you have extra small bits). Combine lemon zest, oil, oregano rosemary and garlic. Toss chicken in this mixture and set aside.
Prep Salad: Wash and prep all your greens.
Bring a medium sized pot to the boil. Blanch beans and asparagus for 1-2 minutes, until bright green. Drain and run under cold water.
Place peas in a medium sized bowl. Cover with boiling water, then drain.
Make Pesto dressing: In a mini food processor blitz the garlic, nuts and basil until finely chopped, add the olive oil, chilli, lemon zest and lemon juice and blitz again until smooth. Add the water in a steady stream while the food processor is running. Dressing done!
Cook chicken: Place a non stick pan on medium heat or use a grill. Once the pan is hot add your chicken, Don’t crowd your pan, if you don’t have a big enough pan do two batches. Cook on one side for 3 minutes or until golden and then turn and repeat on the other side. check one piece to make sure it’s cooked through then allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing for your salad bowls.
Assemble: You can assemble ingredients in a circle and then top with a good dollop of dressing. Or toss all your salad greens together. Serve quinoa on the base of your bowl, top with the salad things, follow with your chicken and drizzle over the dressing. Enjoy!