Citrusy Chicken Quinoa Salad

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Today's recipe is a simple, hearty  and healthy dinner salad that boasts high protein and high fiber.  If you skip the added chicken, you could serve this as a pretty and creative side dish.  Or sub tofu for chicken, and create a vegan one-dish meal.  In any case, this'll cost you only 30 minutes of your time, counter to table.

Orange Chicken Quinoa

1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt
1 bunch scallions (approximately 12 scallions)
1 large navel orange
Juice of 1 lemon
3 T. plus 1 t. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 c. baby lettuce
1/4 c. unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

Boil 1 1/4 c. water in a small saucepan.  Add rinsed quinoa, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed by the quinoa.  Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes and then fluff.

While the quinoa is cooking, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Trim the scallions and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Saute the chicken and scallions in a skillet with 1 t. of olive oil, until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

Meanwhile, make the dressing.  Cut 1 inch off each end of the orange.  Squeeze the orange ends into a small bowl, to get about 2 T. of juice.  Whisk together the orange juice, the lemon juice, 3 T. olive oil, salt and pepper.  Peel the remainder of the orange and slice it very thinly.

Add the chicken mixture, the dressing, sliced orange and the pistachios to the quinoa and toss.  Taste for seasoning - add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper if desired.  Arrange 1 c. of salad greens on each of four plates, garnish each with 1/4 of the chicken mixture.

Serves 4.

Adapted from the Nutrition Action Healthletter, April 2009

Tip: Are you using non-stick cookware?  It's more than suspect from a health-standpoint, it could be downright dangerous.  Did you know that a properly seasoned cast iron frying pan is virtually non-stick?  The secret is to heat it up before you begin cooking your food.  The 1 teaspoon of oil in this recipe more than coated my cast iron frying pan and created a non-stick surface for my chicken - all for only 10 extra calories per serving.  And bonus!  If you use cast iron cookware, you'll get a little extra iron in your diet.

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