Grilled Harissa Chicken Salad with Cilantro Sauce

 

Big white bowl with whole chicken breast, slices of grilled pineapple, avocado slices and more.

 

JUMP TO RECIPE

 

This grilled harissa chicken salad is spicy, it’s healthy it’s fresh and it’s definitely summer in a bowl! If you’re like me and think you don’t like pineapple in savory dishes, I urge you to try this one! It really is amazing and the sweetness goes so well together with the spicy chicken, creamy avocado and lime cilantro sauce.

 

Loaded salads are my jam, and if you want to venture into Mexican, I’ve got this Mexican Inspired Mango Chicken Salad with Avocado Dressing, more Middle Eastern with this Lemon Chicken Salad with Pomegranate or Halloumi and Garlic Veggies & Quinoa Salad. No particular cuisine, but delicious nonetheless is this Green Spring Salad with Lemon Chicken.

 

This recipe is adapted from JoyfulHealthyEats, but I’m making my own harissa, and roasted bell peppers are really easy to do yourself, so I’ve included that as well. May take a little longer, but homemade harissa guyssssss.

 

Sliced grilled harissa chicken in a salad bowl.

 

What is harissa?

 

Harissa is a roasted pepper and/or chilli paste from Northern Africa. The spicy chilli paste can be used in so many different ways, such as in marinades as in this recipe, or as a condiment for grilled meat, with rice or in soups. I have even put it in a bolognese – don’t kill me, Italians! Depending on what kind of peppers you use, this can go from extremely spicy to pretty mild.

 

I’m all about making things from scratch. You get much more control over what you put in it, and more often than not it tastes a lot better. Especially condiments and spices, such as homemade mayo, sun-dried tomato pesto, Italian seasoning and Za’atar seasoning.

 

Harissa chili paste in a small white bowl.

 

How to make harissa chili paste from scratch

 

Making your own harissa can be a bit tedious, but you could also see the de-seeding of the chilis as therapeutic. Right?

 

Soak the dried chiles in a bowl of boiling water and cover, let sit for 30 minutes to rehydrate. I use roughly 80% bird’s eye chiles (super spicy) and 20% Guajillo chiles (a sweet, mild chili). This yields a pretty, ok super spicy, harissa paste.

 

Steps to make your own harissa chili paste.

 

For a milder harissa paste, swap bird’s eye chiles with either: jalapeño, serrano, poblano or anaheim peppers. If you want it super mild, go for bell pepper!

 

For an even spicier harissa paste: do not remove the seeds, and go for ALL bird’s eye chiles. I love LOVE spicy food, but this is even too spicy for me. I never de-seed chilis, except for in this recipe, so trust me!

 

Roast all the delicious Moroccan spices and grind them in a spice grinder or in a mortar. Drain the chiles and begin de-seeding them – pro tip: use gloves for this step! I do not de-seed the guajillos, but about 90% of the bird’s eye chiles. Place them in a spice grinder or food processor.

 

When you’ve done this, you can place all the other ingredients in the food processor and let the magic begin. The desired result would be a smooth and thick paste, along with the chiles and spices. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If you want to store it for later, place it in a jar and top with a layer of olive oil on top and use within a month.

 

Two large white bowls with grilled harissa chicken salad, harissa paste in a smaller bowl.

 

How to roast bell peppers at home

 

While the chiles are soaking, place two red peppers, sliced in half, on a lined baking sheet. Place in an oven pre-heated to 450F (230C) and roast for 30 minutes. When these are done, cool them down in a covered bowl before you remove the skin. Slice or julienne the peppers and then they’re done and ready for assembling.

 

Steps to roast red bell peppers.

 

OK, harissa done, roasted red peppers done! Let’s move on to the actual recipe.

 

Grilled Harissa Chicken & Cilantro Dressing

 

Marinate the chicken in all of the marinade ingredients. Let sit for 10-20 minutes in the fridge. Don’t forget to heat up the grill. I often use a grill skillet inside when the weather is bad! If you don’t have either of these, you can of course pan fry it (7 minutes on each side on high heat).

 

How to grill pineapple and chicken breast.

 

Then it’s time for the delicious creamy and tangy cilantro dressing. Just mix all the sauce ingredients in a blender, taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. If you don’t like cilantro (I’ve talked about this before), feel free to use parsley instead.

 

Steps to make creamy cilantro dressing.

 

Assemble this Grilled Harissa Chicken Salad!

 

Grill the chicken and 8 rings of pineapple (yes, you need it all). Slice up two avocados, spinach, arugula, and crumble some feta cheese and then you’re ready to assemble this beast of a healthy dish.

 

It may or may not look something like this:

 

Grilled chicken with cilantro sauce, pineapple rings in the background.

 

Enjoy!

 

Did you like this Harissa Chicken Salad? More healthy dinner recipes:

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year. 

 

 

In order to keep the blog up and running this post may contain affiliate links, it will be at no extra cost to you, please read the disclosure for more information.

 

This recipe was originally published on Aug 21st 2017, but updated on Apr 7th 2020 for better photos and content.

Big white bowl with whole chicken breast, slices of grilled pineapple, avocado slices and more.
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Grilled Harissa Chicken Salad with Cilantro Sauce

When you need a little bit of Summer in your life, this healthy dish will leave you happy and ready to conquer the world. A spicy North African harissa, mixed with creamy avocados, cilantro vinaigrette and juicy grilled chicken and pineapple.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Healthy, Main Dish
Cuisine: Moroccan, North African
Keyword: chicken salad, grilled chicken, harissa, healthy dinner, roasted bell pepper
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 545kcal
Author: Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice

Ingredients

Harissa Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breast marinade can be used for up to 3-4 breast
  • 2 tbsp harissa see recipe below
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lime juice only
  • 1 lemon juice only
  • 1/4 tsp salt & pepper each, or to taste

Harissa Chili Paste (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 2 oz dried chiles 50g, see notes*
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds or 3/4 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds or 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds or 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste, start with 1/2 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon optional
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for storing
  • 1 lime juice only, optional
  • 1 lemon juice only, optional

Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro 2 large handfuls, or parsley
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lime juice only
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 60ml, or to desired consistency

Salad Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh greens 4 cups (120g) spinach, 2 cups arugula (40g)
  • 4 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 avocados sliced
  • 1 pineapple Cut in 8 rings of 1/2-2/3 inch thick (1.5-2cm)
  • 2 roasted bell peppers instructions in recipe

Instructions

Roasted Bell Peppers

  • Preheat oven to 450F (230C).
  • Place two red peppers, sliced in half, on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a little charred skin. When these are done, cool them down in a covered bowl before you remove the skin. Slice/julienne them up and they are done! 

Harissa Chili Paste

  • Soak the dried chiles in a bowl of boiling water and cover, let sit for 30 minutes. Read notes to find your favorite kind of chili to use.
  • In a dry non-stick pan, add fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds, dry roast for a couple of minutes on medium heat, until fragrant. Grind in a mortar or spice grinder. Skip this step if using ground spices.
  • Drain the chiles and begin de-seeding them, use gloves for this step! I do not de-seed the guajillos, but about 90% of the bird's eye chiles. Since this is a lot of chili, I highly recommend de-seeding.
  • Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until a smooth and thick paste. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If you want to store it for later, place it in a jar and add a layer of olive oil on top and use within a month. 

Grilled Harissa Chicken Salad

  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together, and marinate chicken for at least 10-20 minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, heat up the grill or find your grill skillet.
  • For the cilantro (or parsley) dressing, just mix all the sauce ingredients in a blender, taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Add more olive oil or a splash of water if it's too thick.
  • Grill chicken breast until the thickest part is 165F (74C), about 5-7 minutes on each side, coved with the grill lid. If you pan-fry; on high heat fry for about 7 minutes each side for larger breast.
  • Grill sliced pinapple rings until charred and a little soft. About 2 minutes on each side.
  • Slice up avocados, spinach, arugula, and crumble some feta cheese and then you're ready to assemble this beast of a healthy dish. 

Notes

Did you make this recipe? Tag @thegingerwithspice on Instagram, I'd love to see!
 
* What kind of chiles for harissa?
Mildest: roasted bell pepper. Mild-ish: jalapeño, serrano, poblano, guajillo or anaheim. Spicy: bird's eye chili
 
Mix and match to your own liking! I use 80% bird's eye chili and 20% guajillo peppers. I de-seed most of the bird's eye, but none of the guajillos. This is a very spicy harissa, but delicious.
 
Recipe adapted from: JoyfulHealthyEats.
 
Nutrition: Calories: 545 | Fat: 32.8g | Saturated Fat: 5.1g | Protein: 25.8g |  Carbohydrate: 45.7g |  Fiber 11.6g |  Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 424mg | Vitamin D: 0mcg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 3mg | Potassium: 1338mg. Estimate for informational purposes only.

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