Recipe: Peri peri chicken quinoa salad

SUPER SALAD: Enjoy a taste of spring with a delicious quinoa salad.
SUPER SALAD: Enjoy a taste of spring with a delicious quinoa salad.

Quinoa (pronounced "Keenwah") is gluten free, high in protein and known as a "super grain" for its many nutritional qualities and health benefits.

Originally a staple of the Andean region, it is now becoming increasingly popular in western society as we recognise the benefits of consuming it.

Although we cook quinoa like many other grains, it is in fact a relative of spinach, beets and chard and the part we eat is the seed.

I have to say, backpacking through South America back in my 20s, I don't specifically remember quinoa. I guess the more memorable meals were found in street stalls, such as barbecued guinea pig and insects we couldn't name!

Often in these cold months, we tend to dine on endless slow cooked meals, stews, roasts, curries, soups. Anything that can provide us comfort over winter.

I sometimes tire of these and dream of those lovely fresh meals we eat in spring and summer.

The meal below emulates this desire. It's simple, healthy, fast, full of flavour and thoroughly refreshing.

You can serve it warm or cold and it looks so bright and inviting on the plate.

I have used Simon Gault's stock in this recipe. I personally find it one of the best stocks on the market, being gluten free and actually made from real chicken.

Enjoy a taste of spring!

Peri Peri Chicken with Quinoa Salad


For the chicken & rub
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ginger powder
1.5 tsp ground cardamon
1.5 tsp garlic salt
1.5 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 free range chicken breasts, skin off
1-2 tbl Olive oil
For the quinoa salad
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water with chicken stock added to taste
5-6 tomatoes chopped
2 handfuls fresh French beans, top and tailed
2 large handfuls of coriander chopped
Juice of a lemon
Salt to season
For the yoghurt sauce
250ml natural yoghurt
1 handful of mint chopped
Juice of half a lemon

1. Mix all ingredients in the rub together and roll the chicken breasts in it. Cover and set aside in fridge till ready to cook. The longer you leave it, the more flavour will develop in the chicken.

2. Rinse the quinoa under the tap thoroughly to ensure it will not have a bitter flavour when cooked.

3. Bring the water and stock to boil in a pot and cook the quinoa as per cooking instructions on pack, usually 15-20 mins. I do it in my rice cooker, it delivers light fluffy quinoa without fail each time. Fluff with a fork once cooked. Cool or leave warm depending on method.

4. Top and tail the beans and blanch in boiling water for 2-3 mins then run under cold water. Chop up the tomatoes.

5. Heat 1-2 tbl olive oil in a fry pan and when medium hot, cook the chicken on each side for 4-5 mins, be careful not to overcook else will dry out. Rest when ready for 5 mins then slice.

6. Mix the ingredients for the yoghurt dressing together in a bowl and place in fridge till ready to serve.

7. Mix all the vegetables including the chopped coriander through the quinoa, and squeeze over the lemon juice. Place sliced chicken on top and serve with the dressing. Note to add in the coriander at the very end if serving warm else it will discolour and wilt.

Please note you can add in any other vegetables your kids enjoy and use less cayenne to make it a more family-friendly dinner. Vegetarians can dine on this sumptuous salad without the chicken, obviously exchanging the chicken stock for vege stock.

The Mirror