Warm Winter Salad – Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa

Warm Winter Salad - Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa, Blistered Green Beans, Fetta & Basii.

Warm Winter Salad with Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa, Blistered Green Beans, Hazelnuts, Fetta & Basil.

A beautiful warming dish for winter – this is healthy comfort food, one of those meals where you can feel it doing you good.

I can’t tell you how good this is. Every mouthful.  All the flavours work so well together and I love the combination poached, roasted, sautéed ingredients and the different textures. Everything is served warm/hot except the cold creamy fetta, the crunchy nuts which were roasted earlier and the fresh basil on top.

This was made up on the spot and I was surprised how good it was.  I had considered some elaborate dressing, but all it wants is olive oil, salt and pepper. I’m not usually that much of a fan of quinoa to be honest, (I kind of roll my eyes at all the quinoa in cafes these days) but I just felt like I wanted to use it and it really is perfect for this.

Warm Winter Salad – Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa, Blistered Green Beans, Hazelnuts, Fetta & Basil

Ingredients

For the poached chicken

  • 4-5 free range chicken breasts (or one per person)
  • a few black peppercorns
  • a couple of good pinches of salt
  • 3-4 smashed garlic cloves (skins and everything)
  • a couple of broken celery stalks
  • (if I’d had bayleaves, I would’ve used them too)

For the rest:

  • 1/2 small butternut pumpkin chopped into small chunks (or just cook more and have extra roasted pumpkin)
  • a couple of handfuls of green beans
  • 2 cups of quinoa
  • 3 cups of poaching liquid, or stock, or water (just use the poaching liquid)
  • a couple of handfuls of roasted hazelnuts and almonds
  • danish creamy fetta
  • some fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Method:

For the poached chicken:

  1. Lay the chicken breasts in one layer across the bottom of a wide pan, toss in some black peppercorns, a couple of good pinches of salt.
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the chicken, add celery, and onion. (and any other aromatics)
  3. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and leave in the pan for 20 minutes. (it’s fine if it stays longer – like if you need to pop out and collect your kids from school, or whatever you do).

For the rest:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Spread the pumpkin evenly across an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt
  3. Bake the pumpkin for 20-30 mins until cooked and slightly browned. Set aside.
  4. Pour 2 cups of quinoa & 3 cups of poaching liquid into a saucepan
  5. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 mins.
  6. Turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 mins.
  7. In a wide pan with heat on high, add a splash of olive oil and swirl, add the green beans, put the lid on and let them sizzle for a few minutes.
  8. Toss the beans around a bit, then add a couple of spoons of that poaching liquid. (it will splatter)
  9. Stick the lid back on quick. Leave for a minute or two more, until cooked and a little blistered.

To assemble. (this should all be served hot)

  1. Take a chicken breast and cut into some nice thick slices.
  2. Spoon some quinoa into a wide bowl, scatter the pumpkin and beans, some crumbled fetta, some hazelnuts and some almonds, lay the sliced chicken breast over the top, then top with the basil and drizzle generously with some good olive oil, salt and cracked pepper.