This amazing Quinoa Chopped Salad is loaded with flavor from the crispy herbed chickpeas, crunchy pancetta and my favorite champagne vinaigrette. It’s packed in a jar for an easy weekday lunch at work!
Can you believe it’s already March?! I started writing the post for this salad at the beginning of the year when healthy eating was really everyone’s mind. I was just getting ready to start a new job, which meant I needed to think about packing lunches every day and figured I wasn’t the only one in that boat so enter this great chopped salad in a jar!
I’ve been focusing on easy lunches, so you have something to grab and take to work with you each morning. Salads in a jar are perfect for that and it’s easy to make a couple of them at the beginning of each week. If you make them on Sunday and stash them in the refrigerator they will keep until at least Wednesday or Thursday, which means you’ve got at least a couple days worth of lunches covered!
This is a salad I’ve been making for years, so when I decided I was going to share it on the blog I wanted to make a few updates. One that was really on my mind was making the chickpeas crunchy like I’ve had as a topping for hummus in several restaurants recently. However, when I initially started thinking about updating this salad it was actually the middle of summer here in Chicago – sometimes it takes me a while to finish and publish a recipe!
Anyways, a hot and humid summer day is not exactly the ideal time to fire up your oven to roast chickpeas for hours, so I came up with the idea of making them crispy by pan roasting them instead. Check out this post about how to make crispy chickpeas for the details on get them nice and crunchy. In addition to being great in salads, they make a tasty snack or you can check out these Chickpea Wraps for another easy lunch option. They are definitely a great cook once, eat twice (or three times) recipe.
notes from the kitchen
- When making any type of salad in a jar you want to start by laying in the dressing first, that way it coats everything really well when you pour the salad out of the jar. Since you may leave the salad in the refrigerator for a couple of days, the next layer needs to be something that can sit in the dressing for a while. In this case, I added the tomatoes next, however if the beans weren’t crispy they would be a good choice as well.
- You’ll add the lighter ingredients such as quinoa as you get closer to the top of the jar. And you’ll always want to finish with the lettuce, as it’s the lightest and you want it to come out of the jar first.
- You can add the pancetta & nuts to the jar, however I prefer to keep them separate and sprinkle them on top just before serving as I like them to stay crunchy!
things you may want for this recipe
Salad Dressing Mixer – While some might consider one of these a kitchen “gadget” if you eat a lot of salads and are trying to get in the habit of making your own dressing this is a worthwhile item to purchase. It makes it very easy to mix, store and re-mix your dressing.
Mason Jars – Mason jars are a great option for storing and transporting food. They are perfect for salads like this and can also be used for breakfast parfaits and soups. Like any storage container, I have a couple of different sizes to accommodate different needs.
- 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp coarse ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs chopped
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp dried minced garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 3/4 cup Herbed Crispy Chickpeas
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped avocado
- 4 cups chopped romaine or other lettuce
- 2 tbsp cooked pancetta or bacon optional
- 2 tbsp sliced almonds toasted
Heat a grill to medium heat.
Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herbs and lemon juice. Grill for 6 minutes per side. Cool slightly and chop into bite-sized pieces.
While the chicken is cooking combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine. Divide the dressing between two large mason jars.
Add half of the tomatoes to each jar, then add the chicken. Continue to layer in ingredients by adding the chickpeas, quinoa, avocado and blue cheese. Finish with the lettuce. Once the jar is full, seal with the lid and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
When ready to serve, open the jar and pour the contents into a large plate or bowl. Top with almonds and pancetta (if desired).