I’m challenging you to throw out whatever dinner plans you made for tonight and make the Chicken, Bacon, Date and Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Power Salad I’m sharing with you today – it is sooooooo good!
On another completely unrelated note (sorry) Ben and I are having the worst time deciding on a name for our little boy due in October. It’s not even that we strongly dislike the names that each other are throwing out there, we just feel so “meh” about them that we’re not even 100% convinced of them ourselves. We had a girl’s name all picked out, but the perfect boy’s name is still eluding us. Lincoln suggested naming him “Monkey” which, if don’t get our acts together, might be what we end up putting down on the birth certificate.
Anyway, children aren’t the only thing I’m having trouble naming – the perfect title to describe the epicness of this dish eluded me for days before I decided on Chicken, Bacon, Date and Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Power Salad! Some other contenders included:
- The Best Thing I Ever Ate
- Even If You Hate Salads You’ll Love This Salad
- Let’s Get Excited About Fall Food
- I Couldn’t Stop Adding Toppings
- It’s All About the Brussels Sprouts
I think I made the right choice with Chicken, Bacon, Date and Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Power Salad!
I think this is going to be my last salad recipe of the season here on IGE. We had a good run this summer with Caprese Pasta Salad (be still my heart,) Marinated Vegetable Salad (that. dressing.) Pizza Salad with Gluten-Free Croutons (still full from the amount of croutons I ate,) and Southwestern Chopped Salad (gimme more.) This salad is decidedly fall in flavor though – with hints of maple, bacon, dates, and shallot – and FLAVOR is what you’ll be thinking after taking your first bite.
Followed by “what am I going to feed the rest of the family because I do not want share this dish!?”
Cooked quinoa and mixed greens are combined with a ton of hearty toppings including chicken, dates, bacon, sauteed brussels sprouts, avocado, goat cheese, and fried shallots, then tossed with a spoon-drink worthy Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette. Told you I couldn’t stop adding ingredients! Not only do these additions pair perfectly with each other (bacon and dates, anyone? Bacon and brussels sprouts, for that matter? Bacon and avocado…ok I’ll stop.) but they make this salad incredibly filling and put the POWER in Power Salad. That is to say, eat this salad for lunch and you’ll be full until dinnertime. Serve for dinner and you won’t be searching the cupboards for a bedtime snack.
This salad was inspired by the Kale and Brussels Sprouts Cobb Salad I had at Ophelia’s in Denver though, as much as I liked that salad, I loved this one 100 times more. It’s part stir fry, part salad, and definitely feeding my increasingly fall-needy soul. You have to try this!
Start by rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa (I used a blend of colors,) under cold water in a fine mesh sieve then add to a small saucepan with 3/4 cup chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low, place a lid on top, then simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the broth and is tender, 15 minutes or so. Fluff with a fork then set aside to cool (you can do these 2-3 days ahead of time, by the way!)
Next add 4 strips bacon to a very large, 12″+ skillet then place it over medium heat and cook until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain then chop once cool enough to handle.
Pour out (but don’t throw away!) enough bacon grease to leave a light coating in the bottom of the skillet, then add 2 chicken breasts that have been pounded thin and seasoned with garlic salt and pepper, and then saute until cooked through, 3-4 minutes a side. Remove to the plate with the bacon then chop once cool enough to handle.
Next add 2 Tablespoons bacon grease into the skillet with a 9oz bag pre-shredded brussels sprouts. You could of course hand-shred them, but the pre-shredded stuff saves so much time! Season with garlic salt and pepper then saute until the brussels sprouts are tender and golden brown, 7-9 minutes. At this point the bacon and chicken will be cool enough to chop, and will be on the cutting board vs the plate, so transfer the brussels sprouts onto the now empty plate to cool.
Last step is to add the last of the bacon fat plus enough extra virgin olive oil to equal 1/4 cup fat in the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high then, when the fat is hot but not smoking, add half of 3 jumbo shallots sliced into rings then fry until golden brown, 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, before transferring to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon and sprinkling with salt.
If you’ve never tried fried shallots, you are in for a TREAT, my friend! They taste like the best onion rings you’ve ever had, but don’t require any batter or coating. So delicious.
Fry up the other half then drain and sprinkle with salt.
Last stop: assembly! To a very large bowl add 6oz greens (any kind you want – I used a spring mix) the cooled bacon, chicken, brussels sprouts and quinoa, along with 5 chopped dates (totally make the salad!) and 1 chopped avocado.
Drizzle in enough Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 Tablespoons each maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar + salt and pepper – then toss to coat. This dressing would make an excellent chicken marinade, by the way. So fantastic.
Scoop the salad onto four plates then top each with chevre (soft goat cheese – sub freshly grated parmesan if you’re not feeling it) and a quarter of the fried shallots, then DIG. IN!!! I hope you love, love, love this incredible salad that will power you through your day, and give you an early taste of fall!
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Chicken, Bacon, Date and Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Power Salad
Chicken, Bacon, Date, and Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Power Salad is filled with flavor and protein-packed ingredients to power you through your day. The combination of flavors will leave you wanting more and more!
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 3/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth
- 4 slices gluten-free bacon
- 2 chicken breasts
- garlic salt and pepper
- 9oz package shredded brussels sprouts
- extra virgin olive oil
- 3 jumbo shallots, sliced into thin rings then separated
- 6oz mixed greens
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 5 Medjool dates, chopped
- 3oz chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled
- For the Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Rinse quinoa under cold running water in a fine mesh sieve then add to a small saucepan with chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat then place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium-low, then simmer until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed, 13-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork then set aside to cool - can be done several days ahead of time.
- Add bacon to a large, 12”+ skillet then place over medium heat. Cook until crisp then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and chop once cool enough to handle. Pour bacon grease, except for enough to thinly coat the bottom of the skillet, into a small dish then set aside (do not discard.) Season both sides of the chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper then add to the skillet, turn heat up to medium-high, and saute until cooked through, 3-4 minutes a side. Transfer chicken to the plate then chop once cool enough to handle.
- Add 2 Tablespoons bacon grease into the skillet then add brussels sprouts and turn heat down to medium. Season with garlic salt and pepper then saute until sprouts are golden brown and tender, 7-9 minutes. Transfer to the plate to cool.
- Turn heat back up to medium-high then add the remaining bacon grease plus enough extra virgin olive oil to equal 1/4 cup fat in the skillet. When fat is hot but not smoking, add half the shallot rings then fry until light golden brown (dark brown will taste bitter,) 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Transfer shallots with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain then sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with second half of shallots then set aside.
- For the Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette: add all ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid or a bowl then shake or whisk to combine. Can be done several days ahead of time.
- Add lettuce to a very large bowl then add cooled quinoa, bacon, chicken, brussels sprouts, avocado, and dates then drizzle with vinaigrette to taste and toss well. Transfer salads to plates then top with chevre and fried shallots, and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.