Simple Chicken, Quinoa, and Tomato Salad with Green Goddess (Avocado Cilantro) Dressing

Although the pace of life hasn’t necessarily slowed down yet this summer, it’s been nice to eeek out as much outside time as humanly possible while trying to avoid overly tired children.  It’s pretty adorable how kids think some of the most basic stuff is special, like eating outside.  C asks us nearly every night if we can eat outside (even though it usually results in us constantly telling him he needs to eat instead of play with the toys in our backyard).  And can I just give a huge shout out to Mosquito Joe for spraying our front and back yards so we can actually enjoy being outdoors rather than get eaten alive after two minutes?  Man, the spraying has been a game changer for us in these summer months.

This meal was definitely an outdoors meal…where we relished the sun giving us some beautiful light while not being too hot.  This summer spinach salad with quinoa, baked chicken, and cherry tomatoes was topped with a Green Goddess-type dressing, which packs in the flavor (and nutrients).  If you like avocado, I don’t know how you can’t like this dressing.  It’s so versatile, too.  It can be used on salads, as a spread for crudités, as dip for vegetables, or on fish.

The ingredients for the Green Goddness dressing all go into the food processor (even the stems on the cilantro go in…swoon!).  Process and add water or olive oil until you reach your desired consistency.  I’m a fan of this dressing actually being super thick because I like to retain the heartiness of the avocado, but I think I’m probably an outlier.

Bam!  Sorry this isn’t the most appealing picture but it’s all I captured!

If you know me, you also know I have an aversion to mayonnaise in any form (with the exception of the chicken salad they used to serve at Five Points Deli), but the avocado and Greek yogurt gives the dressing the creaminess it needs.  It’s also pretty filling, so it’s great for a time when you need to throw together a simple salad with minimal ingredients (i.e., throw chicken in the oven, slice tomatoes, and cook quinoa as I did here).

Yield: Approximately 1 1/2 cups

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cups spinach

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 of an avocado
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water (or olive oil)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, including stems
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a squeeze of lime juice

Directions

For the salad:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken breasts.  Place in tented aluminum foil for approximately 45 minutes or until cooked through. (You could, of course, grill the chicken as well)
  3. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.
  4. Add to a bed of spinach, quinoa and halved tomatoes.

For the dressing:

  1. Blend all ingredients together in food processor.  Add more olive oil (or water) to reach your preferred consistency (I prefer mine thick to coat my salad when tossed)
  2. Toss with your salad ingredients.  Tada!!

The dressing will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days in an airtight container.

May we all continue being able to eat outside to enjoy this season to its fullest!

 

 

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