Dan and I both work a lot of hours. By the time I get done with work, unwind, do a little yoga (maybe), and eat dinner, I have just enough time left over to walk the dog and watch a little Netflix before falling into bed. This doesn’t leave me time to do much of anything else after work. Plus, after a busy, stressful day, I frankly don’t feel like it. Mornings are mostly me running around trying to get everything done in an hour, so I don’t have much time to spare there either. Due to this, I’m always looking for an easy lunch that I can throw together quickly.
This quinoa salad is the perfect answer to my problems because I can I prep the ingredients for it on Sunday night, throw it all into a few sealed containers, and just scoop out what I want each morning before work. You could also put the salad together at night if that’s easier. Or, if you have enough meal prep containers, portion out each lunch for the week on Sunday night and pop them all in the fridge.
This salad is also great because I can eat it cold, which allows me to avoid the microwave at work, which as I’ve told you before, I hate using.
All in all, this takes about 45 mins. or less to cook and prep, and then you’re done with lunch for the entire week!
The ingredients below are enough for 5 days worth of lunches for one person. Just adjust the recipe depending on how many you need to make. I usually make enough for both Dan and I so I double most ingredients.
Ingredients for Quinoa Chef’s Salad:
- 12 oz quartered artichoke hearts – I buy the kind in a jar but you can use fresh
- 7 oz. package of all natural hickory smoked turkey breast (I buy GreenWise brand at Publix because it has no added sugar) or shredded chicken
- 2 sweet potatoes + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 cup organic quinoa + 2 cups water or no-added-sugar broth
- 5 oz cheese- I use mozzarella here, but goat cheese or feta would also be great
- 6 oz pitted kalamata olives
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 ct grape tomatoes + 1 tbsp EVOO
- 1 cucumber
- half dozen hard boiled eggs (I cheat and buy them already cooked)
- a pinch each of salt, pepper, & cayenne pepper
Ingredients for Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- a dash of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice
For my Sunday lunch prep I start with the quinoa. I use about a cup of dry quinoa and cook it following the instructions on the packaging. The instructions for quinoa are usually as follows:
- Pour 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water or broth into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover the pot and lower the temperature to simmer. Simmer for 15 mins.
- Remove from the heat and leave it for about 5 mins.
- Fluff it up with a fork.
Once cooked, the quinoa expands and you’ll have about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
While the quinoa is cooking, you can work on the rest of the salad.
- Clean and chop up the sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces
- Toss sweet potato chunks in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and season with some salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne, and spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet (easier cleanup).
- Roast them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30-35 mins., flipping them periodically throughout the cook time so they cook evenly.
- While the potatoes start to cook, rinse the tomatoes and toss them in a bit of olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper, and spread the tomatoes out evenly on a second foil-lined baking sheet.
- Once the sweet potatoes have about 20 mins. left to cook, you can put the tomatoes into the oven as well. That way they both finish cooking about the same time.
- Chop up the cucumber, bell peppers, and artichoke hearts into bite-sized pieces. You can use fresh artichokes and cook them yourself, but just a warning that artichokes are kind of a pain to prepare. I’m too lazy for all that. I just buy the kind in a jar. Work smarter not harder.
- Cut the mozzarella and deli meat into bite sized pieces as well. I used sliced turkey here because that’s what I had, but you could really use any meat you choose.
- Slice the boiled eggs into quarters and the olives into halves.
Once everything is prepped, let the cooked portions cool a bit, then you can put it all into a container until you are ready to portion it out for lunch. I usually put the quinoa, eggs, meat, and cheese into separate containers, and all the veggies in one.
When you are ready to portion it out for lunch, you can put it all into one container.
Assembling the Salad:
I use about a 1/2 cup of quinoa, about 1 oz. of turkey, and a small handful of each other ingredient. You will be tempted to add more than this, because it doesn’t look like much, but I promise this salad is more filling than it looks. You can compare to my photos in this post for an idea of how much of each ingredient I use each day.
Next is the dressing. I love this dressing and I use it on all kinds of salads. It’s so simple, so healthy, and tasty af.
Salad Dressing Instructions:
- In a small resealable container combine the Dijon, EVOO, ACV, lemon juice, honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Stir until combined.
- Add a little water, 1 tbsp at a time, until you get the dressing to the consistency you like, combining completely. I usually do about 1.5-2 tbsp of water.
Depending how much dressing you use per day, you might need to make a little more later in the week. I use about 1.5-2 oz. per day. You’ll also probably need to give the dressing a stir each day, as it tends to separate.
I found some cheap little 2 oz. containers at Marshall’s that are perfectly portioned for salad dressing. I just pour a little into one of those to bring to work so I don’t have to pour it on ahead of time and end up with a soggy salad. I highly recommend finding something like that if you want to start meal prepping.
You can easily tweak the ingredients in this salad to make it exactly to your liking, but this combo is my favorite. Hope you enjoy!