There is nothing quite like fresh Mozzarella. Recently, since moving from San Antonio to Austin, I have become a little spoiled to the assortment of grocery stores within my 3-mile radius. With a Sprouts and Central Market less than 2 miles from my house it makes going to the slightly less expensive HEB seem miles away. (It’s only 3 miles away, but it feels like FOREVER!) You can tell a girl is a little addicted to cooking when she gets excited about the grocery stores in her neighborhood! While on a Central Market shopping spree, I came across what they claimed to be “Fresh, In-house made Mozzarella!” My mind immediately drifted back to a late-night dinner Cohl and I had in Rome, Italy last summer while backpacking through Europe. He, of course, was able to order the deliciously gluten-laden pepperoni pizza, while I was stuck ordering a simple Caprese salad. When our meals came out I found myself so incredibly jealous of my husbands ooey, gooey, greasy pizza. As I gazed down at my measly looking salad my expectations were anything but high. I took my first bite… my mind was immediately changed. Never had I ever tasted tomatoes bursting with so much flavor, mozzarella cheese that seemed to melt in your mouth, and was that balsamic?!? Because it tasted a little more like a sugary syrup they drizzled over the whole thing.
So, as I stood there in that Central Market produce section, I knew I would be making a Caprese salad. With Utopiafest coming up (yes, yes, I know I’m still talking about that music festival, but I promise–this is the last recipe from it!) I wanted to make something we could keep cold and eat on and off throughout the day. By combining the bold flavors of a traditional caprese salad with hunger satisfying quinoa, I had a feeling we had hit the jackpot. This dish will serve an army due to it’s filling nature. It’s great to make on a Sunday and eat for lunch throughout the week. If it’s just you, I would halve the recipe and you will have plenty! Hope you enjoy!
Chicken Caprese Quinoa Salad
By combining the bold flavors of a traditional caprese salad with hunger satisfying quinoa, you can create a filling meal.
- 1 ½ c. dry quinoa
- 3 ¼ c. water
- 1 T. butter
- 1 t. salt
- ½ t. pepper
- ½ c. olive oil
- 2 c. basil leaves
- 1/3 c. almonds
- 1/3 c. parmesan cheese grated
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 3 c. cooked shredded chicken
- 8 oz. mozzarella fresh, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 t. salt
Combine the quinoa ingredients in a slow cooker and turn on. If you do not have a slow cooker, you can cook your quinoa the traditional way on the stovetop.
While quinoa is cooking, combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds.
Once the pesto is prepared, prep your remaining salad ingredients (cutting tomatoes, shredding chicken, cubing the mozzarella.) If you happen to be able to find fresh Mozzarella definitely give that a try!
When quinoa is done cooking, let cool for about 10 minutes in a separate bowl (you don’t want the mozzarella to get all melted when combining.) Add pesto to the quinoa and toss until quinoa is completely coated. Lastly, add in tomatoes, chicken, mozzarella and salt. Toss to combine.
This salad tastes great served cold. I like to refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving, but if you’re really hungry, it's OK to eat it warm. Hope you enjoy!