Cajun Chicken Quinoa Salad

When I’m busy I always forget how much I love cooking.  Since I haven’t done that much dinner preparing this month, I was a little sluggish in making a final decision for this meal.  At first I was uninspired, standing alone atop a chair in my kitchen, gazing into the pantry with a spaced out look on my face.  I was so close to making Kraft Dinner.  Resisting the instinct to eat like a student, I finally decided to base my meal around three key ingredients: red pepper, red onion, and quinoa.

A simple google search informed me that I wasn’t insane in my dinner mission, and that the three ingredients I chose would actually go quite well together.  I’ve had an ungodly craving for chicken lately (bizarre, I know), so decided to throw that in for fun.  I found one recipe on the web that looked good, and decided to use it as a starting point for the dish you see below.

This turned out to be a great meal.  I’m currently studying in the library, deeply regretting my choice to leave my leftovers at home.  Guess what I’m having for dinner?  For students looking for a quick protein and fibre fix to get them through exams, this meal is stellar.  It also only takes about half an hour to prepare, which means you can get back to your work (or Facebook lurking) as quickly as possible.

Man, the thought of leftovers is killing me right now. Thank god Ariel is buying me a muffin. (Update: I just ate my leftovers for supper, I’m so happy right now)

See the recipe after the jump!

Recipe: Cajun Chicken Quinoa Salad
Inspired by Eat Out, Eat In
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 tbsp homemade Cajun seasoning (see instructions below)
– 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
– 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
– 1 ½ cup chicken broth
– Pinch of salt
– 1 red pepper, diced
– ½ red onion, diced
– 1 cup canned lentils

Cajun seasoning
Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl…
– 1 tbsp paprika
– 1 tbsp dried parsley
– 1/4 tbsp garlic powder
– 1/4 tbsp dried oregano
– 1/4 tbsp dried thyme
– 1/8 tsp salt
– 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Sprinkle Cajun seasoning over chicken and fry until browned.

Meanwhile, cook quinoa in a pot with the chicken stock.  Add a pinch of salt.  Bring liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer, until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Once chicken is browned, add diced red pepper and red onion to the pan, cooking vegetables until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add rinsed and drained lentils, tossing to coat.

Finally, add the cooked quinoa into your pan with chicken, lentils and vegetables.  Mix well and serve hot.  Makes 3 servings.

Note: I used canned, pre-cooked lentils because I had some leftover in my cupboard.  This recipe can easily be adapted to use dry lentils.  If you use approximately ½ cup dried lentils, this should equal a cup once cooked.

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