I know that at this time of yearwith the cold and the rain and the fog and the frostcomfort (think rich and/or sweet) food is almost always at the top of my mental menu. But after a serious amount of seasonal indulgence I find myself craving something a little bit lighter to sate my appetite. With so much grey around I wantedand neededa colourful contrast – on my plate at least – and felt drawn to a bit of greenery. Green is the colour of new buds and leavesrenewalfreshness and health; so what better dish to encourage an end to the cold and barren winter months and shepherd in the commencement of spring and the beginning of new growth and abundancethan my ChickenWatercress and Quinoa Salad.
This salad is light and crisp with a wonderful lemonygarlic zing. I love the combination of peppery watercress and the delicate flavourbut meaty textureof roasted chicken with the plump support of seasoned quinoa. I have to admit to it being very simple dish to createespecially if you are using leftover chickenbut it doesn’t lack any for that and makes for a wonderfulrefreshing and clean tasting lunch or supper.
This dish is perfect for using up coldcooked chicken and so is ideal to make the day after a roast chicken – you can even strip the meat from the chicken and then boil up the carcass with a few vegetables and a bouquet garni for some fabuloushomemade chicken stock - perfect for using to cook the quinoa. If you don’t have any leftover chicken to hand then I recommend cooking off some chicken breasts and/or legs in olive oil (roasting pan180c (160c Fan) for between 20 – 45 minutesdepending on whether you are using meat on the bone) and then discarding the skin and/or bones and chopping in to small pieces. If you can find a good whole smoked chicken or smoked chicken breasts then definitely use them; the smoky tones of the meat work perfectly with this salad. A final alternative is to buy a ready cooked chicken from a good supermarket or delialthough it wouldn’t be my first choice.
CHICKENWATERCRESS AND QUINOA SALAD
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
350g of cooked chicken
200g garden peas (frozen or fresh)
2 cloves of garliccrushed
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
30g broken cashew nuts
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of chicken stock (alternatively use 2 heaped tsp of Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder GFDF and yeast free vegetable stock)
Begin by combining the garlicwatercress and lemon zest in a food processor and blitzing until minced and completely combined. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with a lidpour over the stockcover and bring to the boil. Once boilingreduce the heat to its lowest setting and then leave to simmer very gently for 10 minutes. After 10 minuteslift the lid and add the peas (whether frozen or fresh)re-cover and cook for a further 5 minutes or until all of the stock has been absorbed by the quinoa. Once cookedset aside to cool down.
Heat a large heavy based frying panadd the cashew nuts and lightly toast until golden in colour (you will have the shake the pan regularly for even cooking).
Meanwhilecut the chicken in to small piecesapproximately 1cm in size. Once the quinoa has cooledfluff up with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the watercress pasteadd the chicken and cashew nutspour over the lemon juice and olive oil and season well. Toss thoroughly until well mixed and then serve.