Quinoa chicken spinach salad with mandarin oranges, walnuts and a honey-lime vinaigrette (and optional sriracha drizzle) is a flavorful main dish salad that’s ready in just 20 minutes!
It's been one of those weeks where we have something going on every afternoon... Almost all fun stuff but it keeps me running around more than usual and I feel like when we get back home, I'm in ignore mode.
Meaning, ignore my kids. 🤦♀️
I'm trying to catch up on work and finish up this, that and the other (though not the laundry sitting in the hallway outside the laundry room. It's clean but it's been there a week cause I can't find a minute to fold it and put it away.)
They're 5 and 3 and luckily very good at entertaining themselves but sometimes I look up and it's almost time for them to eat.
Then I'm scrambling to fix their dinner and clean the kitchen, which is inevitably a disaster from earlier in the day, and it's like, BAM, that went right by me.
I get plenty of quality time with them, but I do feel bad sometimes when I'm trying to juggle it all and it means I'm not completely available to them.
I guess that's just how it goes sometimes, right?
Oh, mommy guilt, you are a beast. And another B word I won't mention here...
You guys know I don’t like wimpy salads, right? Case in point: my warm chicken, spinach and sweet potato salad with bacon vinaigrette. ALL kinds of hearty!
And then there’s my chopped salads… southwestern chicken chopped salad, Asian chicken chopped salad and most recently, my Mediterranean chopped salad that’s vegetarian but still super filling. Cause I want all the veggies, but I need some protein and probably also some carbs in my salad!
And today’s Quinoa Chicken Spinach Salad has ALL the goods.
Tender chunks of chicken mixed with fluffy quinoa, fresh chopped spinach, sweet mandarin oranges, crunchy walnuts and a honey-lime vinaigrette to coat everything and tie it all together with some great citrus notes. 💚
And, maybe you saw this coming, but I like to add a little drizzle of sriracha sauce on my salad. I highly suggest you do the same. 👌
I love how easy this is to pull together, too. I made it for one of our monthly girls nights when we were supposed to go do yoga in the park and it got rained out.
And by rained out I mean there was a massive storm that night. Scary to drive in sort of storm.
But we all got together at a friend’s house anyway and ate and drank wine in our yoga pants instead. 😂
This salad was a HUGE hit. I had hoped to have enough leftover for lunch the next day, but no such luck.
Notes on quinoa chicken spinach salad:
- You can use leftover roasted or grilled chicken or pick up a store-bought rotisserie chicken for this recipe. (I’ve even substituted my slow cooker turkey breasts before and that worked well, too.)
- I get everything prepped while the quinoa is cooking to make this go faster. Also, once the quinoa is cooked, move it to a large bowl to help it cool more quickly. (Or make it ahead of time and have it ready to go for a super-fast meal!)
- If you’re not a spicy person, just leave out the hot sauce in the dressing. If you are a spicy person, leave it in and add a drizzle of sriracha sauce. 🌶
- You can make this salad ahead, but I’d suggest waiting to add the walnuts and the dressing to the salad until you're ready to serve it. That way, everything stays fresh.
- This salad is dairy-free but you could add your favorite cheese to this if you like.
I hope you all have a fun weekend and lots of yummy eats for the Big Game!
We're going to the circus that morning 😁 The kids have never been and since Ringling Brothers is in it's last year, we figured we'd better go see them while they're in town. I'm excited to see what M and J think of it!
Then we'll come back home afterwords and snack away on all the appetizers for football time. That's a good Sunday 👍
For the salad:
- 1 ¼ cups uncooked quinoa
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
- 2 big handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
For the honey-lime vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. Let cool then season with salt and pepper.
- Combine quinoa, chicken, spinach, mandarin oranges and walnuts in a large bowl.
- For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a small jar, cover and shake vigorously to get the ingredients well combined.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad and mix well.
You can use leftover roasted or grilled chicken or pick up a store-bought rotisserie chicken for this recipe.
If you’re not a spicy person, just leave out the hot sauce in the dressing. If you are a spicy person, leave it in and add a drizzle of sriracha sauce to the salad when serving.
If making ahead, wait to add the walnuts until serving time so they stay fresh. Also, store the dressing separately and add it when ready to serve.