Grilled Sesame-Lime Chicken and Quinoa Salad is a tasty and vibrant make-ahead summer meal with lots of veggies. Just add fresh bread to complete it.
This grilled chicken salad is a full meal-in-one. It’s loaded with vegetables – including fresh spinach or greens, green onions, peppers and tomatoes – and bulked up with healthy quinoa and marinated grilled chicken.
The marinade/dressing is made with sesame oil, lime juice, soy, garlic and maple syrup, creating a nice combination of earthy, sweet and tart. I got the idea for the dressing from an Epicurious recipe for chicken wings and tweaked it a bit.
Once the chicken is marinated, the whole thing takes little time to pull together. You can even shorten the marinating the time to 20-30 minutes on the counter if you’re in a rush. The real advantage to this salad, however, is that it can be made ahead and assembled just before serving. The other big advantage is its flexibility. Lots of variations are possible so you can create the dish to your own taste or, more importantly, with whatever you have on hand. Some crusty bread or corn bread would be great accompaniments or try it with a healthy light appetizer like Vegetable Summer Rolls.
Shortcut for Grilled Chicken Salad
- Buy pre-grilled boneless chicken pieces or shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken and toss with some of the dressing.
- Marinate for less time (20-30 minutes) at room temperature.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use or add other vegetables like grilled zucchini, sweet potato or asparagus.
- Add cut up ripe peaches or mangoes.
- Add some nuts or toasted sesame seeds for crunch.
- Use rice noodles instead of quinoa.
You can also try other salad combinations by adding grilled chicken to two other Two Kooks In The Kitchen salads seen below this recipe if you scroll down, including Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Beets or Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash salad.
Grilled Sesame-Lime Chicken and Quinoa Salad Recipe
- 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken (thighs or breasts)
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 large red pepper (or 2 smaller), seeded and cut in large pieces
- 2 large green onions (or more)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 or 5 cups fresh baby spinach or lettuce greens, roughly chopped
- 6 cocktail tomatoes, cut in quarters
- Garnish: chopped parsley or cilantro
Lime Sesame Marinade/Dressing
- 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic (small clove)
- 1/2 tsp sriracha hot sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- MARINATE CHICKEN: Whisk all marinade ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup. Pour half of the marinade into a sealed plastic bag (reserve the rest for the dressing). Add chicken to bag, seal and ensure it is coated with marinade. Marinate in fridge for 1-2 hours. If time is short, marinate on counter for 20-30 minutes)
- Heat grill to medium high.
- MAKE QUINOA: Rinse quinoa in a strainer. Add to a small pot with 3/4 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, fluff with fork and set aside.
- GRILL CHICKEN, PEPPERS, ONIONS: Remove chicken from marinade and pat with a paper towel. Lay chicken and vegetables on a pan lined with foil. Drizzle everything with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 3-4 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through (160F). Remove and let chicken rest for 5 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Cut chicken and vegetables into bite size pieces.
- ASSEMBLE SALAD: Mix chopped greens/spinach, quinoa and vegetables together in a mixing bowl. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Add chicken and tomatoes on top. Taste remaining dressing and adjust as needed (more sweet, lime, hot sauce etc.) Just before ready to serve, drizzle evenly over salad. Sprinkle on parsley or cilantro for garnish (and toasted sesame seeds if you like) and serve.
Consider adding grilled chicken to these other salads: