Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

I made this for our second coworker dinner. I saw it on one of my favorite blogs a couple weeks ago and have not been able to stop thinking about it. I had some leftover chicken that I needed to use, ears of corn are only $0.25 each, and I found a bottle of spicy BBQ on the sale shelf at Safeway. That couldn’t be a coincidence. The universe was practically begging me to make this.

I marinated the leftover chicken in BBQ sauce overnight so that the flavor would really soak in. For the corn, I decided to grill it in my grill pan. It came out slightly charred but still a little raw. It was so fresh and flavorful. I also made the quinoa in the microwave, which was a first for me. I was a little nervous because it smelled like popcorn when it was cooking and after the 8 minutes of cooking, it didn’t look done at all. But if you follow the directions that I listed in the recipe, everything should turn out perfectly! It’s not any easier than cooking it on the stovetop but, due to my recent move, I have only one gigantic pasta pot right now so stovetop wasn’t a practical option.

To assemble the salad, I started everyone’s plate with a bed of lettuce. The original recipe didn’t call for this but I absolutely love the way quinoa tastes with lettuce. It’s such an interesting texture and it looks really gorgeous. So then I topped the lettuce with quinoa, black beans, corn, BBQ chicken, shredded cheddar, BBQ Greek yogurt dressing, jalapenos, and cilantro – in that order.

I loved everything about this salad. It reminded me of a taco salad with an American summer barbeque season twist. The chicken and black beans made it filling. The spicy BBQ sauce counteracted the sweet grilled corn. The quinoa gives it great texture and adds nutrition. Cheese is tastes good with everything so that was a no-brainer (Though I accidently bought imitation cheddar because I was shopping the sales. I was too scared to look at what it was really made of but it was low in calories and tasted fine so I suppose that’s fine…). The BBQ Greek yogurt dressing is great because it’s a protein-packed, low-fat substitute for dressing! I could have eaten the whole contain of “dressing” for the same caloric intake as 2 tablespoons of a typical creamy dressing. Definitely don’t leave out the cilantro! Sometimes, I’m totally guilty of leaving out certain fresh herbs because I’m too lazy to look for them or cheap to pay for them. Especially if I think the dish has enough flavor going on with the extra additions. Don’t do it! The cilantro takes this dish to a whole other level and brings it all together. Unless you’re one of those people who hates cilantro, then I guess you can skip it. Boo.

Please go make this immediately before summer corn goes out of season!

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad (4 servings) from Iowa Girl Eats
  • ·         6 cups lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ·         1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well
  • ·         2 cups water
  • ·         2 chicken breasts, shredded and marinated in BBQ sauce
  • ·         2 ears corn, shucked (or 1 cup corn kernels)
  • ·         1/2 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
  • ·         1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ·         1/2 cup pickles jalapenos
  • ·         1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ·         1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ·         1/4 cup BBQ sauce

1. Shred two cooked breasts of chicken and marinate in BBQ sauce overnight.
2. Rinse quinoa very well in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water. Combine with the water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe top or plate and microwave for 8 minutes. Stir and let stand for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, recover, and microwave on high for 2 minutes more. Let stand for 1 minute before serving.
3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan on medium high. Add corn to the grill pan at the same time that you put the quinoa in the microwave. Rotate every couple of minutes to evenly char on all sides. Remove the corn to a plate and let cool slightly. Slice kernels off the cob.
4. Mix together Greek yogurt and BBQ sauce in a bowl. Evenly divide the lettuce, cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, shredded BBQ chicken, and shredded cheese between four plates. Drizzle with yogurt and BBQ sauce mixture, then garnish with jalapenos and chopped cilantro.

why yes, I'm still obsessed with having plates and a table. 
all the goodies :)

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