BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Salad

Alright, I admit it – any salad that doesn’t include lettuce in it is a salad that’s up my alley. Then again, I’m learning to broaden my horizons and eat lettuce-based salads in an attempt to be a tad healthier…the flavor combination that’s gotten me through band camp is pickled beets & goat cheese (maybe it sounds weird, but it tastes pretty good to me!)

One of my new favorite blogs to peruse is How Sweet It Is.  Jessica posts a lot of great recipes and I absolutely adore her writing style. She posted this one a few weeks ago and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I had, had had to make this or else I knew I’d be missing out.

 BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Salad

adapted from How Sweet It Is

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa**
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly torn cilantro
  • 4 green onions, sliced

** To cook quinoa, rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa for about 30 seconds to rinse off its bitter coating. Cook with 2 cups of water, just as you would with rice (I actually use my rice cooker)

  1. In a large skillet, over medium-heat, cook the bacon until it is a bit crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it aside, atop a paper towel (to drain the excess grease).
  2. In the same skillet, add the red onion and toss to coat in the bacon grease. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside in a small bowl.
  3. Season the chicken with the salt & pepper, as well as the paprika & onion powder. Add it to the same skillet and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked through, stir in the 1/3 cup of the BBQ sauce and turn the heat down to low. Add in the cooked quinoa, red onions & garlic mixture, the chickpeas, corn, and roasted peppers, plus half of the cilantro & green onions. Mix it all around so that the ingredients are well-distributed.
  5. Right before serving, add the bacon. Serve, topped with the remaining cilantro & green onions.

Hubba hubba!

I decided to add pinto beans instead of chickpeas because i had them on hand. We both really, really enjoyed the flavor combinations of this dish and the house smelled amazing while it was cooking. The chicken itself, with the smoked paprika & onion powder, was fantastic! I could probably have eaten that all by itself.

It also helped improve my husband’s mood, as he had had a rough day at work – he wasn’t too keen on the idea of having a ‘salad’ for dinner, but I think the bacon & barbecue sauce changed his mind. 🙂

This dish will also be perfect for when fall rolls around and we don’t want to fire up the grill for barbecuing.  The flavors blend together very well and really are “summery”. I highly recommend it!