Middle Eastern inspired chicken and quinoa salad with fresh herbs, red peppers and pistachios. Finished with honey harissa and tahini yoghurt sauce. Gluten-free, healthy and delicious. Step-by-step photos included after the recipe.
6 chicken tenders (also known as tenderloins or 2 small chicken breasts, 250 grams)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
A good pinch of pepper
Juice of 1/3 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
+ 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking
For Honey Harissa
2 tablespoons harissa paste/pesto (I used this rose harissa)
1 tablespoon honey (see notes for sugar-free option)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
Tahini Yoghurt Sauce
5 tablespoons plain, Greek yoghurt (or dairy-free alternative)
2 teaspoon light tahini paste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked quinoa (any colour, see notes for grain-free option)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/2 large red sweet pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach leaves or two big handfuls
Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste
2–3 tablespoons pistachios nuts, chopped roughly (or other nuts of choice)
- If using uncooked quinoa, prepare as per packet instructions. You can also make quinoa ahead of time as part of meal prep.
- Marinate the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken tender the spices, salt and pepper, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and rub well together. Set aside to 10 minutes to come to room temperature. If using chicken breasts, slice them into 3 long pieces first.
- Make the sauces. In a small bowl, combine honey, harissa paste and lemon juice and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the tahini yoghurt sauce and set aside.
- Cook the chicken. Preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and cook the chicken pieces for 3 minutes each side. Set aside for a minute to rest. You can use cooked tenders whole or cut them into smaller pieces. Please note, the tenderloins are more tender than the rest of the breast meat and they also need less time to cook as they are not as thick.
- Prepare the salad. Depending on how you want to plate it, you can arrange the salad on one large platter in a layered fashion or in individual bowls. You can also mix it all in one big bowl. For my version, I arranged spinach leaves on the bottom, followed by mixed quinoa, red peppers and herbs. Drizzle with a little lemon juice and season with a little sea salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces over the top and drizzle those with the honey harissa and tahini yoghurt (serve the remaining sauces on the side). Finish with a few extra fresh herbs and crushed pistachios or another type of nut (if using).
Honey alternative: The salad is pretty low in sugar but if you want to omit the honey, feel free to use a sugar-free liquid sweetener such as Sukrin’s golden syrup alternative or malt syrup.
Harissa: This red spice paste is popular in Middle-Eastern and North African cooking and you can usually purchase in most big supermarkets or online. It’s also easy to make at home, here is the recipe. Quick alternative would be using tomato paste with a little olive oil, lemon, some ground cumin, paprika, chili and honey mixed in.
Vegetarian: You can top the quinoa salad with spiced chickpeas or grilled tofu or paneer.
Pescatarian: Shrimp or prawns or white fish fillets can be marinated in the same spices and grilled to use on top of the quinoa.
Grain-free/Paleo: Instead of using quinoa, briefly pan-fry some cauliflower rice. Fresh zucchini noodles would also work well. Diced and roasted or steamed sweet potatoes would also work.