Apricot-Curry Chicken Quinoa Salad

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Are you familiar with quinoa? I was introduced to it over 20 years ago and have loved it ever since. It is a staple on our dinner table and enjoyed when packed for lunches. 

It is referred to as "the mother of all grains", but it is not a grain.  It is actually a seed from the amaranth family.  It is packed with protein, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals. It is cooked similarly to rice and has a wonderful nutty taste.

In this recipe, I add lemon juice, red onion and parsley to round out the flavors for a bowl of goodness and nutrition.

I think it is the perfect recipe to share before a weekend of Halloween sweets!

Apricot-Curry Chicken Quinoa Salad
serves 4-6

For the Sauce
3/4 cup (4-ounces) dried apricots
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

For the Quinoa 
2 cups water
1 teaspoon neutral oil (I use Safflower)
1 cup quinoa (I use white in this recipe)

For the Chicken
2 teaspoons neutral oil (I use Safflower)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the Salad
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup seeded and diced English cucumber
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

For the Sauce
In a blender, combine the apricots, curry powder, cayenne, rice wine vinegar and water; purée until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve; pressing solids. Set the sauce aside until ready to use.

For the Quinoa
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the oil and quinoa; stirring until combined. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool to room temperature.

For the Chicken
In a small non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add one-quarter of the apricot sauce, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is done, about 10-15 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest. Once cool enough to handle, dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

For the Salad
In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa, olive oil, orange juice, cucumber, red onion and parsley.  Add the chicken and the remaining apricot sauce; mix until combined.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Charlie Trotter Cooks From Home


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