Quinoa topped with grilled chicken, goat cheese and fresh raspberry dressing creates a great option for a light packable lunch or a quick dinner!
A friend of mine first made a version of this Grilled Chicken Quinoa Salad for me several summers ago. She initially had it at a local Chicago restaurant, then made her version….well, you get the idea. I love recipes that evolve like this!
This salad starts out with a base of fluffy quinoa which gets topped with grilled chicken, some shredded brussels sprouts, a sprinkling of goat cheese and some toasted almond slices. It’s finished off with a bright, tangy homemade raspberry dressing.
One of my favorite modifications to this recipe was the addition of that fresh raspberry dressing. This was my first foray into a fruit-based dressing, and I have to say, I’m super happy with the results. I’ve already come up with a whole bunch of other things you can use it on!
Tips for Toasting Nuts
Toasted nuts are another one of my favorite salad toppings. You often see instructions to toast nuts in the oven, however, when I toast nuts, I use a small non-stick pan over medium-low heat. It’s easy to toss them so you get an even toasting and means you don’t have to turn the oven on. Just be sure to keep an eye on them, as they can burn quickly once the pan heats up.
Meal Prep Tips
I like this salad because it is easy to make and keeps well. It’s a good one to add to your weekly meal prep routine.
- Make a nice big batch of quinoa on Sunday or whenever you do your meal prep.
- Grill the chicken at that same time or early in the week. I’ll often make a double batch of this chicken when I’m grilling it as the marinade is one of my favorites.
- The dressing can also be made several days ahead of time in stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will get a little thick after being in the fridge so you can add a touch of water or olive oil to thin it out.
- I keep toasted nuts on hand at all times. I usually buy a bag of sliced almonds and toast the entire bag at one time. They keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
things you may want for this recipe
There are a few key tools that I use in this recipe that I wanted to share, as they are things I use very frequently and find incredibly useful.
Pinch-Smidgen-Dash measuring spoons – These spoons provide the actual measurements for these increments instead of having to guess. When I use these measurements in recipes, it is based on these spoons.
Magnetic Measuring Spoon Set – I love this set of spoons for two reasons; first they are magnetic, so they stay together in the drawer but separate easily when you need to use them; second the set includes a ½ tablespoon which I find incredibly useful.
OXO Mini Measuring Cup – This is great for making salad dressings and other things that call for 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil or other liquid ingredients. It’s much easier to measure once than pour repeatedly into a measuring spoon making it well worth the $5 price tag!
Chicken Quinoa Salad
For the chicken:
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about ½ a lemon
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the dressing:
- ½ cup fresh raspberries
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- pinch of ground pepper
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
For the salad:
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- ½ cup sliced brussels sprouts
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ¼ cup sliced toasted almonds
- Preheat grill to 400°F (medium high heat)
- Mix garlic, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, mustard, thyme and olive oil in a small bowl. Place chicken in a small plastic bag and pour olive oil mixture in. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding any excess marinade. Season with salt and pepper.
- While the chicken is marinating, make the dressing by placing the raspberries and water in a blender; blend until smooth. Add vinegar, pepper and honey. Blend again until all ingredients are incorporated. Add olive oil and blend until smooth.
- Grill chicken for 5-6 minutes per side until done. Remove from grill and let cool slightly. Slice into thin strips.
- In a medium bowl mix the brussels sprouts with 1 tbsp raspberry dressing. Add quinoa and mix well. Divide among 4 small bowls. Top each with chicken, goat cheese and toasted almonds. Add dressing to taste.
Originally published June 2015. Updated July 2017.