Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, Cherry Tomato, and Quinoa Salad

September 22, 2010

Yesterday was day 2 out of day 4 off from work, and I was pretty much a slug on the couch all day. I made plans to prepare this make ahead dinner, but peeling my rump from the cushions seemed next to impossible for most of the afternoon. Eventually, I had to get up to answer the door for the delivery man, so I figured I would go with my momentum while I had it and buckled down to make this. I’m glad I did.

This salad is great. I mean, really great. It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to summer while the farmers market still has delicious corn and cherry tomatoes. The only thing that makes this meal better is eating it with a nice, cold beer after an early evening soccer game. That’s my kind of night!

The dressing on this salad is my new favorite dressing. It contains marjoram, which I’d never used before. Marjoram tastes like a sweeter, more mild version of oregano. Next time, I’m making extra of this dressing for a salad later in the week.

I’ve added two steps to this recipe. I’d like to explain why, so you know I’m not running you around the kitchen without good reason. First, I brined my chicken. Brining chicken prevents the chicken from losing a lot of moisture to the surrounding environment. It is about 2 minutes active time and 30 minutes of waiting that will make a dry chicken breast much juicier. The ratio for brine is 1 tablespoon table salt to 1 cup water. I use one cup brine per chicken breast. This is not a necessary step, but I think it is a worthwhile one. 

And lastly, the quinoa. You may be asking yourself, “Why in the world am I rinsing my quinoa 3 times?” Quinoa is a delicious, hearty, slightly sweet grain which is naturally surrounded by a bitter coating called saponin. The saponin is washed off during the multiple rinses. If you don’t want to bother with the rinses, I’d suggest substituting farro or couscous for the quinoa in this recipe.

Alright, sorry if I told you more than you ever wanted to know about brining chicken and rinsing quinoa. But I am lazy unless someone gives me a good reason not to be. I wanted to let you know how the extra steps will yield a better, final result. 

Recent articles on food and drink that caught my attention:

CHICKEN, GREEN BEAN, CORN, CHERRY TOMATO, and QUINOA SALAD (adapted from Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad. Bon Appetit, August 2009. Quinoa cooking instructions from Quinoa Salad with Fresh Hearts of Palm. Gourmet, May 2009)

I altered this recipe quite a bit. I had difficulty finding farro, so I substituted quinoa. Others who commented on the recipe said couscous also works well. I added cherry tomatoes. And I brined my chicken, which is not necessary, but will make for a more juicy chicken. I substituted sherry vinegar for white wine vinegar because I like the flavor better, but according to other comments, rice wine vinegar works well too. I think balsamic would overpower the flavor a bit. 

This salad can be made up to one day ahead

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 12 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (cut from 2 to 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • Recipe

    Brine chicken. Pour 2 tablespoons table salt and 2 cups cold water into a Ziploc bag or sealed container. Add chicken breasts. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes. 

    Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a fine-mesh sieve. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of well-salted boiling water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot above 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel (not terry cloth), then cover with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 15 minutes. Let stand off heat, without lid but still covered with towel, 5 minutes. Let cool in a closed container, in the fridge if you’re in a rush. 

    Your chicken breasts should be brined now. Take chicken breasts out of bag, rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. Cool, then cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes.

    Cook green beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water to cool; drain. Transfer beans to kitchen towel; pat dry.

    Halve cherry tomatoes.

    Mix quinoa, chicken, and green beans in large bowl; add corn, green onions, and cherry tomatoes.

    Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, marjoram, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in small bowl. Press with back of spoon to release flavor. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad in bowl; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

    Divide chilled or room-temperature salad among plates. Sprinkle with goat cheese.


    One Response to “Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, Cherry Tomato, and Quinoa Salad”

    1. […] My Favorite Chicken Recipe on this blog: Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, Cherry Tomato, and Quinoa Salad […]

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