Friday, August 24, 2012

Chicken Quinoa Cherry Cashew Salad Recipe Gluten-free

Cherry balsamic soaked
dried cherries adds a nice
flavor to this quinoa, cashew
gluten-free chicken salad
I have had a lot of people ask me for simple gluten-free recipes that can satisfy hungry friends and family who are both gluten-free and non-gluten-free eaters. It makes sense to make one meal instead of  two.  Well, this is one of my favorite simple, yet really elegant in its presentation and taste that guests will ask you for the recipe. As I have said in the past, going wheat, gluten-free does not mean having to sacrifice anything - you do need to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and perhaps try foods that are not currently staples in your home. Quinoa is a great example of a rewarding stretch. 

The key to this recipe is to cook the quinoa as directed either using the instructions below or following the package directions. When the quinoa is done the grain will be translucent and soft and you will be able to see the germ ring along the outside edge of the grain. Now that may sound intimidating but if you take the 15 minutes to try it - this will make sense when you look at the cooked quinoa.

Another tip is to let the chicken cool in its baking pan for a few minutes until you can touch it, and then cut it into bite-sized pieces in the pan and let it soak up some of its cooking juices which you have seasoned prior to cooking (the olive oil and salt and pepper). Once the chicken is cut up and has absorbed some of its own goodness, then mix the cut up chicken into the bowl with the quinoa.

Enjoy - from my table to yours....

Chicken Quinoa Cherry Cashew Salad

2 large chicken breasts
2 cups of quinoa (prepared according to directions below)
½ cup of dried cherries
½ cup of cashews
2 tbsp of Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp of olive oil
Salt and pepper

To prepare chicken breasts:

                Preheat oven to 375 degrees
                Place the uncooked chicken breasts on a baking pan
                Using 1 tbsp of olive oil lightly rub the chicken breasts
                Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken breasts
                Place the baking pan with chicken breasts in the preheated oven and cook for 30 - 35 minutes
                                until done
                Let the chicken breasts cool in the baking pan and then cut into ¾ inch pieces

To prepare the quinoa:

                Place 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of water in a 1 ½ quart saucepan and bring to boil
                Reduce to simmer cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes)
To prepare the remainder of the salad:

                Lightly chop the dried cherries and soak in the cherry balsamic vinegar for 15 minutes while
                                preparing the other ingredients
                Lightly chop the cashews to get into bite-sized pieces

Assemble the salad:

                This salad can be assembled while the ingredients are warm, or fully cooled
                In a large mixing bowl put the cooked quinoa, chicken and olive oil lightly mix
                Add chopped cashews and cherries in their marinating juices
                Salt and pepper to taste

This salad can be served warm just after assembling, or make it ahead of time and serve the next day. Serve on a bed of greens with a few fresh tomatoes or pickled beets on the side for an added dab of color and enjoy. Makes 6-8 servings.

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