I love making salads in the summer while the produce is in peak season and the flavors are amazing. The next time you’re at a farmers market, grab some fresh cherry tomatoes, yellow corn, cilantro, jalapenos, and lettuce greens and make up some Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad! For this recipe I borrowed a dressing that I found years ago on Epicurious, and haven’t been able to part with since. It’s a unique combination of sweet honey, tangy lime, and aromatic cilantro. It is absolutely incredible on veggies. I’ve added quinoa and grilled chicken to the veggies in this salad to play up the textures and make it a complete meal, but you could also use pinto or black beans instead of quinoa, if you like. The beauty of salads are how much flexibility you have to add whatever sounds good to you!
Texture is everything in making a salad go from just okay to great. Keep the greens to a medium chop, about 1-2 inch pieces so the smaller ingredients don’t get lost. I also like to cut the jicama to match the size of the corn kernels for a consistent crunch. And rather than mixing in the avocados in cubes, which can weigh the salad down with a creamy coating, use bigger slices as garnish when you serve it. This salad is really fun to serve on a big platter for everyone to dig in and serve themselves.
Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad
For the Chicken
1 packet taco seasoning
3-4 chicken breasts, pounded thin
For the Salad
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped to 1″ pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ear yellow corn, cut off the cob
1/2 cup jicima, peeled and chopped in 1/4″ cubes
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
For the Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
- Pound the chicken 1/2″ thin between two layers of plastic wrap. Sprinkle all sides with taco seasoning and let it set in the fridge for up to an hour before cooking. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through. Let it cool and slice into thin strips, cutting across the grain.
- Cook the quinoa with the broth in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes until you have a dry fluffy texture. Season as needed with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature.
- Make the salad dressing by mixing together all ingredients until evenly combined.
- Prepare the salad greens by tossing the romaine, tomatoes, corn and jicama with enough salad dressing to suit your taste.
- To serve, spoon a little over half of the quinoa over a large platter. Top with the salad greens, and then sprinkle on the remaining quinoa. (This will distribute the weight of the quinoa and keep the salad light.) Then add the sliced chicken on top and garnish with avocado slices and cilantro.