There’s something so satisfying about making something out of nothing. I think it’s what drives us to create and innovate. Bringing individual bits and pieces together to make a whole: it just feels good. Often creating something new is a bit risky, but that’s what makes it exciting – and rewarding when things work out.
I’m constantly inspired by human creativity and the amazing ways we find to express ourselves. How do you express yourself? I’ve always loved to dance: as a quiet kid growing-up I really enjoyed being able to share who I was without having to talk. Picking-up photography relatively recently has been a big learning experience, involving a lot of experimentation, but the reward of getting a “cool” shot is huge.
This Chicken Quinoa Salad was born through a moment of creativity and necessity. Lunchtime “hanger” was approaching and I needed to eat something quick. I found a leftover BBQ chicken thigh in the fridge – good start. But I wasn’t into having a sandwich (although always a good option in my books). Bringing out some quinoa and a few other veggies, my creative wheels were turning. The piece de resistance was finding the fresh basil leaves. I knew the perfect accompaniment for the salad: a creamy basil salad dressing with just a touch of maple syrup. Once I had my vision, and with “hanger” setting in, this salad was done in a quarter of an hour. Presto!
After taking all my food blog photos it was so rewarding to tuck into this Chicken Quinoa Salad creation. Fresh herbs combined with tender chunks of chicken and a crunchy vegetable and quinoa salad – definitely one of the tastier ways of combating lunchtime hanger. It could even work as one of those portable, mason jar salads by shredding the romaine leaves and putting them at the top of the jar.
Whether it’s being too busy, financially strapped, or lazy (sometimes you just can’t be asked, right?) to go to the grocery store, I find my most creative meals stem from raiding the fridge and pantry. It’s sort of like those Master Chef cooking challenges where contestants need to make a meal out of a few randomly selected ingredients. Creating something unexpected from what I have is my Master Chef moment. Sometimes it works out amazingly, other times not so much. I think we all have experience doing this in some way, shape, or form. I really encourage it as a way of stretching your own culinary creativity. Trust your instincts and get your cook on!
Oh and if you find some leftover chicken, this Chicken Quinoa Salad is an excellent way to use that up.
Chicken Quinoa Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup green pepper diced
- 1/4 cup red onion thinnly sliced
- 1/2 cup cucumber diced
- 1/4 cup parsely chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cooked chicken breast or thigh sliced
- 4 romaine leaves
Creamy Basil Dressing
- 1 tbsp basil finely chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp mayonaise
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- pinch of salt
In a medium-size bowl mix all salad ingredients together, except for chicken and romaine leaves.
Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Find 2 large plates and place 2 romaine leaves on each plate. Fill romaine leaves with salad mixture and arrange chicken pieces on top. Drizzle with dressing. Use fresh parsley, cracked pepper, and lemon wedges to garnish.
Make your salad portable by layering the salad into a mason jar (or other container). Start with the quinoa mixture, then basil dressing and chicken pieces. Shred the romaine leaves and put at the top of the jar, trying to avoid mixing them with the dressing so they don't wilt.