This recipe is heavily inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe from his book Comfort Food. It’s filled with nutritious, delicious ingredients that do a body good, like quinoa, blood oranges and avocados. Blood oranges have become one of my favourite fruits in the past few years, so if I see them in a recipe or on a menu, I get excited. Although I think they are at their best around January to March, they are still available in Lidl, so snap them up while you still can. Of course normal oranges would work well here too.
Since I am not a natural salad eater, I felt the need to add roast butternut squash, grilled chicken and a lemon yogurt sauce to it, just in case it wouldn’t fill me up! Ha! I’ll have to work on my preconceived ideas of salads. I know now that the original recipe is actually quite substantial, so feel free the forego the chicken, squash and yogurt sauce, unless you fancy the additions. They all worked well with the original recipe. This salad is packed full of flavour and perfect for this time of year when we start craving lighter, more refreshing food, and there was plenty left over for lunch the next day.
2 large free range or organic chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/2 lemon, preferably unwaxed
2 blood oranges or normal oranges or clementines
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
light olive oil
small bunch fresh mint
small bag / 100 g baby spinach (organic if possible)
small head of radicchio or other bitter salad leave such as rocket
handful of pumpkin seeds
1 small butternut squash
1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, cumin, smoked sweet paprika, dried chilli flakes, dried thyme
2 heaped tbsp non fat, low fat or full fat greek yogurt
100 g quinoa
250 ml water
1/2 organic chicken stock cube
Follow the instructions on the quinoa packet to cook the quinoa, then leave it to cool. I like to add half a chicken stock cube and the already squeezed lemon to give it a bit more flavour.
Preheat the oven to 200 C or Gas Mark 6. Wash the butternut squash. Very carefully, with a sharp knife, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds with a tablespoon. Reserve them in a dish for later. Cut the squash into quarters lengthways, and half them again. Then chop it into small bitesize pieces. Spread on a baking tray along with the seeds, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of light olive oil, half the dried spices and a good pinch of sea salt. Mix well to coat evenly. Roast in the oven for 25 – 40 minutes until browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
In the meantime, mix up the marinade for the chicken in a large shallow dish. Combine the zest and juice of the lemon, 1 or 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons of light olive oil, the remaining ground spices and a pinch of sea salt. Slice the chicken breast in half sideways, and place them, one at a time, into a large freezer bag. With a rolling pin, hit them repeatedly to flatten them out and tenderise them. You can get all your frustrations out!
Or if you’re smarter than me, you’ll just get your butcher to do this step for you! Ask them to butterfly the breasts for you. Add them to the marinade and coat evenly. Leave to sit for 15 – 30 minutes – however long you have.
Heat a grill pan (cast iron is preferable for heat distribution) until very hot. With a tongs, grill the the two flattened chicken breasts, about 6 minutes a side, until well charred and cooked through. Remove to a plate or chopping board to rest, then slice against the grain into thin slices.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes, until they start to pop. Remove from the heat.
In a large salad bowl, cut a garlic clove in half and rub it well around the inside of the bowl. Add a pinch of salt, the lime and orange juice, and the extra virgin olive oil. Whisk well and check the seasoning. Carefully cut all of the rind off the oranges and slice thinly. Using a teaspoon, scoop out small balls of the avocado.
Jamie’s recipe says to combine the quinoa, salad leaves, avocado and oranges in the salad bowl with the dressing, but I found that made everything far too messy and sloppy. So I tossed the avocado in the dressing first to help prevent it browning, then removed it. I then added the spinach and the radicchio, the toasted pumpkin seeds, the blood oranges and tossed it VERY gently. Add the avocado back in carefully.
To make the yogurt sauce, mix the yogurt with 1 clove of crushed garlic and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve in a small bowl.
To serve, I used shallow bowls, and arranged it in segments like a clock. First a portion of quinoa, then the salad, then the sliced chicken, then the roast squash. Sprinkle with the remaining pumpkin seeds, and crumble over the feta. Cut the pomegranate in half and with a wooden spoon, whack the back of it to get the jewelled pips out, and sprinkle over the top of the dish.
Serve with the yogurt sauce on the side. Serves 2 generously, with leftovers.
Like this recipe? Try my Blood Orange Crêpes Suzettes!