Delicious, easy and healthy, this Chicken, Kale, Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad is the perfect way to use up leftover chicken and makes an excellent lunch – you will be the envy of all your colleagues when you turn up at the office with this. No pumpkin? Don’t worry – this can easily be made with butternut squash too!
Hoorah it’s autumn…and that means squashes and pumpkins aplenty. I love gourds of all complexions – they are so delicious…especially when roasted! This recipe is such a lovely way to eat them…and a great way to use up leftovers.
I first made this Chicken, Kale, Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad about a year ago – my kids had a gymnastics competition that ran over lunch time and I wanted something healthy to eat while I watched them, but I only had about 30 mins to prepare something…I scrabbled around in my fridge and cupboards and came up with some leftover chicken, half a bag of kale, a sad leftover bit of butternut squash and one of those bags of pre-prepared quinoa.
I roasted off the squash, shredded the chicken, massaged some of my honey mustard salad dressing into the kale (fab tip to make raw kale edible!) and mixed the lot together with that bag of quinoa and headed off to watch my kids armed with a fork and my little tupperware pot of goodness.
When lunchtime came I positively wolfed down my healthy little salad (with not a few jealous glances my way) and vowed to put it on the blog as soon as possible…except along came Christmas and my yummy little salad kinda got forgotten and then it didn’t feel like a spring dish, so I saved it for this autumn, when I knew it would fit perfectly!
Up to you whether you make this with butternut squash or pumpkin – both are yummy, and if you’re making this salad outside of autumn, you may be hard pushed to find a pumpkin in the shops, but at this time of year when pumpkins abound, it would seem a shame not to use pumpkin in this recipe. It’s also a fab way to use up leftovers from any pumpkin carving activities you have planned…alternatively it’s a great way to use up that half a butternut squash that there always seems to be lurking at the back of the fridge (or is that just me?).
I like to use pre-cooked quinoa as it is so quick and easy, but if you prefer to cook your own quinoa, that’s absolutely fine – you’ll need to use about 90g dried quinoa to get your 250g cooked quinoa. Rinse the quinoa and cook in 180ml water with the lid on for about 15 mins, then leave to stand for a further 5 minutes before using.
No leftover chicken? No worries – simply pan fry two chicken breasts for about 6-7 minutes on each side on a medium heat, leave to rest for 5 minutes, shred using a couple of forks and then continue with the recipe below.
This salad is naturally gluten free and dairy free. If you want to make a vegetarian version you could use cubes of feta cheese, quorn chicken pieces or walnuts in place of the leftover roast chicken. If you want a real wow factor, you could try sprinkling this salad with some pomegranate seeds.
If you are eating this in the office at lunchtime, then you probably DON’T want a wine match!! But if you are having this for a quick and easy dinner instead, it would go perfectly with an oaked chardonnay – go for one from California, Australia or Chile…it is such a good match! If white wine is really not your thing, try a dry rosé or red from the South of France.
- 400g pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 100g kale, hard stalks removed
- 300-500g cooked chicken, shredded or cut into 1 cm cubes
- 250g cooked quinoa
- 4 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
- 4 tablespoons cider vinegar (or lemon juice, or white wine vinegar)
- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoons salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas Mark 7.
- Place the pumpkin/squash in a roasting tray and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of oil, ½ a teaspoon of salt and a few twists of black pepper. Toss the pumpkin/squash in the oil and seasoning and place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before adding to the salad.
- Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients. Simply place all the dressing ingredients into a clean jam jar, screw on the lid and shake until everything is combined.
- Put the kale in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale for about a minute, or until it feels like the kale has ‘softened’ and is more like the texture of lightly cooked kale.
- Add the quinoa, chicken and cooled butternut squash to the kale and stir to combine.
- Serve straight away or place in boxes in the fridge for lunches.
Love chicken? Check out my collection of Easy Peasy Chicken Recipes…
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