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Lemon Dill Chicken Quinoa Salad

This is another happy accident from my house, Lemon Dill Chicken Quinoa Salad! It’s a summer main dish salad that I threw together one night and got rave reviews from the table. Then I was tasked with recreating it. That took a little while.

Lemon Dill Chicken Quinoa Salad

This recipe is one of the reasons that my herb garden is so handy and why it’s smart to keep a lemon on hand. The fresh lemon, dill and chives really make this salad tasty.

Packed with protein, this salad benefits both from the lean chicken and the nutrient-rich quinoa. This salad is both healthy and satisfying, and still light enough for a summer lunch or dinner. Serve it immediately or chill it until you are ready.

close up of salad

Quinoa: To rinse or not to rinse

The challenge of recreating this salad centered on a problem with sog. I had several attempts where the salad just seemed too wet which made a weird texture for both the chicken and the feta cheese.

The solution came upon recreating my original blunder in quinoa preparation! Or what I thought was a blunder. I had been taught that it was important to rinse quinoa before I prepared it. But when I accidently forgot, I stumbled once again upon the successful and satisfying results I was searching for. Without rinsing, the quinoa had a delicate crunch and a nice, nutty flavor. It suddenly supported the dressing instead of being bogged down and overcome by it. Lesson learned – don’t rinse the quinoa!

Now the reason we’ve been taught to rinse quinoa is because there are bitter, natural chemicals that keep quinoa from being palatable. But most of the quinoa available to us is pre-rinsed. Just check your packaging for pre-rinsed quinoa, and you will be able to skip that step. I wouldn’t recommend quinoa you must rinse yourself unless you like soggy salad.

main dish summer salad ingredients in bowl - red onion, cucumber, chicken, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, chicken, dill and chives

Simple ingredients, great flavor

Simple ingredients can result in some of the greatest recipes! Keep this one fresh with real lemon and fresh herbs. If you’ve got a nice garden, throw in those cherry tomatoes and cucumbers that are growing like wild! Or pick some nice produce up from a local market. Reduce prep time with prepared, packaged, cooked chicken or a yummy and convenient, roasted bird. Or save some steps and some money by using leftover chicken from a previous meal.

My husband can’t eat strong onions so this salad is made with him in mind and with a shout out to those who don’t eat onions. You could jazz it up with some red onion instead of the mild green onions and chives if you want to punch up the onion. Currently, the prominent perky flavor is lemon in this main dish summer salad.

bowl of Lemon Dill Chicken Quinoa Salad from above, next to chives and lemons

Lemon Dill Chicken Quinoa Salad

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Enjoy the fresh flavors of garden dill and chives in a lemony chicken salad with crunchy quinoa.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup pre-rinsed quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ tsp. chicken bouillon
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 ½ cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped, about ¼ cup
  • 10-12 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (2 tsp. dried dill)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 4oz crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Combine water, chicken bouillon and quinoa in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; then cover and reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Quinoa may be prepared up to a day in advance.
  2. Combine quinoa, chicken, cucumber, green onion, cherry tomatoes, dill and chives.
  3. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Stir in desired amount into the salad. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Sprinkle with feta before serving.

Notes

This salad is just amazing when you use fresh herbs. Although some recipes advise to rinse quinoa before cooking, check your packaging and opt for pre-rinsed quinoa for this salad. You can never quite achieve the crunch of this salad if you rinse your quinoa, and you will inevitably end up with a soggy salad.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 231Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 409mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 13g

I said this recipe was a happy accident, but this story also involves a sad accident. Shortly after photographing this beautiful, blue and white dish, I accidently dropped it in the sink and chipped it. Yikes! Very sad. Nevertheless, the recipe is wonderful.

What are some of your favorite summer main dish salads? I’m sure you’ll want to add this to the list!

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