Easy Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad

I don’t know about you, but when it’s hot out I don’t want a heavy meal. I crave fresh, beautiful ingredients and dishes that are easily prepared. This Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad is exactly the cool, crisp bite I crave.

Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad

This salad reminds me of a sunny Florida day. Bursting with bright citrus and awash in color, this Gluten Free salad is perfect for lunch with your girlfriend or a light elegant dinner.

What makes this salad so special? Pasolivo Tangerine Olive Oil and Sparkling Citrus Vinegar brings a one two pop of flavor. Pasolivo offers a full line of 100% Californian olive oils.

Thoughtfully hand blended, they are free of artificial ingredients and preservatives. In addition, their artisanal vinegars are designed to compliment their olive oils.

Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad, It’s All About the Layers

Let’s talk salad construction. A good salad should always possess a balance of flavors, textures, and colors.

A surprising kiss of sweet adds interest to all of the savory. When you bite into something crunchy, you immediately start craving that next bite.

This Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad checks off all the marks. It’s variants of verdant greens with sunny splashes of orange are as gorgeous as they are delicious.

Crunchy pine nuts and the texture of the quinoa offer a counterbalance to the soft lettuce leaves. And the natural sweetness in the segments of oranges and bright dressing provide the natural sweetness to play with the savory pesto chicken.

Let the salad plate be your canvas and have fun!

Use whatever greens you have on hand. Baby lettuces, red leaf, butter lettuce. Likewise, don’t be afraid to add any of your favorite vegetables to this.

Pesto Pronto

Another component that makes this salad so special is the baby spinach pesto that brings herbaceous and fresh flavors to the chicken.

I’ve made pesto chicken before in my Gluten Free Chicken Pesto Pizza. It only takes minutes to make pesto. The food processor or blender does all of the work for you, and the uses are endless.

This citrusy version of pesto with accents of fresh orange juice and Pasolivo Tangerine Olive Oil would be equally as delectable on fish, drizzled over sweet potatoes, or tossed with your favorite Gluten Free pasta. Make it for this salad, and have fun using it in other dishes.

Step in from the sunshine, turn on the music, and let’s make Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad!

Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad

Pesto Chicken Citrus Quinoa Salad

This colorful and vibrant salad is awash in colors and textures and perfect for an elegant lunch or light dinner.
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Course: Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2


  • Blender/food processor
  • Baking Sheet


Baby Spinach Pesto Chicken

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup Tangerine Olive Oil
  • 2 chicken breasts

Citrus Salad Dressing


  • pesto chicken, cubed
  • 2 cups lettuce leaves
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup microgreens
  • 1 avocado, sliced


Baby Spinach Pesto Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and place chicken on baking sheet. Set aside.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and fully combined.
  • Baste chicken with the pesto. Bake chicken for 20-30 minutes depending upon the size of the chicken. Internal temp should be 165.
  • Allow chicken to cool.

Citrus Salad Dressing

  • Add dressing ingredients to a bowl. Whisk until completely incorporated.
  • You can also add ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine.


  • Starting with your layer of lettuce, assemble salad on two plates. Add your remaining ingredients and drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Mention @TheSaltyCooker or tag #thesaltycooker!

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