If you envision chicken salad as a big bowl of mayonnaise-coated chicken—and little else—it’s time to rethink the possibilities. In this updated combination, the chicken takes a backseat to quinoa, a protein-rich, gluten-free grain. I toss the two with grapes and celery for crunch and cumin-lime vinaigrette for the perfect summer picnic fare.
Quinoa cooks quickly–start to finish in under 15 minutes–and you can even make it a day or two ahead. I often grab a rotisserie chicken from the market (make sure it’s gluten free) and dice up the meat for the salad. You can also season some chicken thighs with salt and roast them at 425° for about 25 minutes as a simple way to get “cooked chicken”.
As with most grain salads of this kind, you can let your imagination take the lead. Blueberries or diced peaches make great alternatives to the grapes in terms of adding sweetness. Try toasted slivered almonds or chopped radishes instead of the celery for crunch. Add a handful of chopped parsley or basil from your garden stash. Just keep it easy, it’s summer! ~LbR