I'm not one for salads. They're just not indulgent enough for me. In fact, if I have to make one, I sneak a little cream into the dressing just to make a point. But when I wanted to make something quick, I knew that a salad was one of the easiest options. To force myself into salivating for one, I thought hard about what my favorite ingredients are to have in a salad and came up with chicken, corn, heirloom tomatoes, and spinach. With some quinoa and a few additional touches, I am now just a little bit more in favor of salads. I think you will be, too.
*Note: OK, I'll admit it, I used a homemade dressing with a little cream in it for this salad, but it was basically a balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing is such a small factor of this recipe, so choose your favorite dressing or whichever one you're craving that day.
In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and 1 ½ cups water and bring to a boil. Season with salt to taste, reduce the heat, and cover. Cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken tenders and season liberally with salt and pepper. Sauté until the chicken tenders are golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes. In a separate, smaller sauté pan, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the corn and jalapeño until the corn is bright yellow and cooked, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and heirloom tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss well to combine. Add the cooked quinoa and corn and toss again.
To serve, dress the spinach with 1-2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinaigrette, or more if needed. Place a small pile of spinach on a plate and top with the quinoa salad and a few strips of chicken.