With Halloween (the first holiday to herald in the Eating Season) right around the corner, I thought you might appreciate something on the lighter side. I know I do! Something that won’t weigh you down, but will absolutely fill you up — and make you feel good at the same time, like this Quinoa Chicken Harvest Salad.
Let’s be honest, as we move deeper into fall, those rich, rib-sticking meals become more common, so a tasty light salad actually takes on a bit of novelty — and shouldn’t we all mix in a salad every once in a while?
This one takes the flavors of autumn (apples & cranberries) and blends them with protein-packed quinoa, pan-sauteed herbed chicken breasts, fresh greens and a tangy tarragon dressing. Topped with crunchy toasted almonds, this salad rivals anything you’ll find at Panera. If I’m honest, I like this better. The dressing has more depth with champagne vinegar, chardonnay, whole grain mustard, honey and dried tarragon, the chicken is warm from the pan – and the quinoa makes it feel more substantial.
I use dried tarragon in the dressing because the recipe makes a little more than a cup — and fresh tarragon would wilt and turn a not-so-pretty brown if you keep it for more than a day or two – but you can add fresh tarragon to the finished salad and it would be delicious. With this vinaigrette you can dress this salad — and several more — and that should give you a nice break from the heavy casseroles and stews. Plus a light, tasty salad will leave you more room for dessert!
- 1 large chicken breast
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled
- 4 cups torn lettuce leaves or mixed greens
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 apple, sliced into wedges or cut into chunks
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard (also called pommery mustard -- w/ whole mustard seed)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chardonnay
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt, pepper and tarragon. Heat oil in a small ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. When pan is very hot, add the chicken and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side, until it starts to brown. Transfer the pan to the hot oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest on a cutting board.
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup combine the garlic, whole grain mustard, dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, chardonnay, honey, dried tarragon, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- For the salad, combine the lettuce, quinoa and apples in a large bowl. Slice the chicken crosswise and rest it on top of the salad. Sprinkle with cranberries and almonds. Drizzle about 4-5 tablespoons of dressing over the salad and serve.
- Note: This makes slightly more than a cup of dressing and you won't need that much for the salad. It keeps well stored in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for about a week.
- Salad can be doubled, tripled.