As we creep ever closer to the middle of February many of those promises made to ourselves at one-past midnight on the first of January have somehow fallen victim to the quirks of everyday life.
I thought it would be fitting to write a recipe that is full to the brim of flavour and goodness. Something healthy, balanced, and satisfying that can be thrown together with little effort.
This is the sort of summer salad I love – a simple chicken salad tricked out with nutty quinoa, chunks of avocado and roasted pumpkin, celery, basil, roasted almonds and an apple cider spiked yoghurt dressing.
Nothing but good.
2 x organic, free range chicken breasts
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
3 sticks celery, chopped
1½ cups pumpkin, cooked and chopped into small cubes – I used a Kent pumpkin but other varieties are fine
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
2 cups English spinach, rinsed
1½ cups quinoa, rinsed
½ cup Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ cup whole almonds, skin on
Preheat oven to 200C
Toss the pumpkin pieces in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop into the hot oven and roast for approx. 25 minutes, or until lovely and golden.
Place quinoa in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the simmer over medium heat, and cook until tender (10-12 minutes). Drain, rinse under cold running water, drain well and set aside.
Place the chicken breasts in a non-reactive bowl and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Turn to coat. Set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating toast the almonds. To do this, place almonds in a pan and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned and fragrant – keep an eye on these as the almonds can burn quickly. Once toasted, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cooled, roughly chop.
To prepare the greens for the quinoa, wilt the spinach in a pan. Transfer wilted spinach to a chopping board and roughly chop.
Cut the avocado into 1cm by 1cm cubes.
For the dressing, combine yoghurt with apple cider vinegar. Stir and season to taste.
To cook the chicken, place a non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat.
Drain chicken from marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer to chopping board to cool slightly before slicing into large pieces.
To assemble the dish, combine the quinoa, spinach, basil, avocado, chopped celery and almonds. Toss gently. Add the roasted pumpkin and chicken. Mix in about 1 tbsp of the yoghurt dressing, reserving the remaining dressing for a final drizzle. Toss the salad together. Season to taste. Spoon over the remaining dressing and divide between four plates. Serve.