This nutritious Moroccan Chicken Quinoa Salad is a meal the whole family will dive into. Filled with sweet roasted vegetables, crisp cucumber and tomato, and a mouth watering Moroccan marinated chicken. Sure to be a new family favorite!
Visiting Alex’s family in Australia always inspires new recipes for my blog. Alex’s sister is an amazing cook, and everything in centered around vegetables — so you know I am one happy camper when we are eating with her.
Australia (his family is in Wagga Wagga, which is between Melbourne and Sydney) has a much milder climate than Oregon, and so her herb garden and the neighbor’s lemon trees are functioning most of the year. So many of her meals start with greens from her garden, and she’s always sprinkling on herbs she’s just picked. I get produce envy while we are there (come on, that isn’t that strange, is it?). Fresh veggies rock.
One year, I was inspired by her carrot soup, and came up with this delicious Carrot Apple Fennel Soup (which many of you are loving, by the way – super popular this year!). She also inspired this Roasted Beet and Carrot Quinoa Salad. I also starting making my own yogurt after enjoying hers while visiting.
This year, it was all about her Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous Salad. I just loved the combination of the fresh vegetables with the sweet, charred roasted squash and beets. HAD TO RECREATE! Only I prefer quinoa, which is a great gluten-free stand in for cous cous.
Quinoa salads are great options for making enough for leftovers. The recipe below has rarely been made as written in my house. We double it, and then have lunches for days. We haven’t tired of it yet!
Tips for Moroccan Chicken Quinoa Salad
- Make it Paleo/Whole30: This would be a perfect Paleo or Whole30 dish if cauliflower rice was used instead of the quinoa. If you’re looking for a lower carb option, check out my recipe for Lightened Up Chicken Tikka Masala for directions on making cauliflower rice. If you need this to work on a Whole30, use cauliflower rice and omit the honey in the dressing – it really won’t make much of a difference!
- For the Family: My 2 year old isn’t super fond of the texture of quinoa yet, but I’ve found that if I chop up the roasted veggies, add some herbs, some chopped chicken, and some quinoa into an egg, and cook it like an omelet, he eats this dish really well. Some children might also prefer the components to be served separately – like quinoa with chicken on top, some roasted veggies on the side, and a small cucumber and tomato salad with a bit of the dressing. There are so many delicious components in this salad, it’s sure to make the whole family happy.
Moroccan Chicken Quinoa Salad
This salad is packed with tons of healthy goodness - and so much flavor, it's sure to become a family favorite. We eat the leftover of this salad for days and it's just as good served cold as hot. The ingredient list in this recipe is long, but don't let that overwhelm you! This salad is actually very easy to put together, and so delicious it's perfect for serving to guests.
- 1 cup quinoa cooked to package directions
- 1/2 butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 2 beets (about 1 1/2 cups, peeled and cubed)
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped finely
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley chopped finely
- 1/4 cup almonds sliced, toasted
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (or thighs) boneless
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon paprika sweet
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or date syrup
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
Add the chicken to a covered dish, and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Mix all spices together in a small dish, then evenly coat chicken with the spices. Refrigerate and allow to marinate 1-2 hours. I have experimented with letting it marinate overnight, but it doesn't make a difference.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add cubed butternut squash and beets to a cookie sheet, and lightly spray with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are well cooked and starting to char.
Prepare the dressing by adding all ingredients to a jar, and shaking to combine. Set aside until ready to serve the salad.
Cook the quinoa, and chop the veggies and herbs.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat, and add a small amount of olive oil. Add the chicken, and saute for about 8 minutes on each side, until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Prepare the salad by layering the quinoa with the roasted veggies, the cucumber and tomatoes, and the herbs. Top with sliced chicken and toasted almonds. Just before serving, drizzle with the dressing.
We often double this recipe, and enjoy it cold for lunch the next few days. We just don't tire of all these flavors! Feel free to dress it before refrigerating - it keeps the quinoa from drying out.
Other Quinoa Recipes:
- Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, by Pinch of Yum
- Layered Autumn Quinoa Salad, by How Sweet Eats
- Kale Salad with Blueberries and Quinoa, by Vitamin Sunshine
- Roasted Beet and Carrot Quinoa Salad, by Vitamin Sunshine