Chicken, pumpkin and quinoa make the perfect picnic or grown-up lunchbox meal. The honey and mustard dressing makes it a sure-fire crowd pleaser.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (4 votes)


  • ½ butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 2 cups baby spinach


  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard 
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 5 minutes

Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

In a mixing bowl, add the pumpkin along with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil and mix through. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the pumpkin on top before putting in the oven for 20 minutes or until coloured and soft to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on high heat, add the quinoa plus 1¾ cups of water. Bring to the boil before turning to low and simmering for 12 minutes.

Now add oil to a frypan on high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down; it should sizzle. Once the chicken begins to cook halfway up the sides, flip it over. The skin should have a lovely golden colour. If you have an oven-proof frypan, place it straight in the oven, if not you can transfer it onto a roasting or baking tray. Cook for about 5 minutes or until chicken is springy to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

For the honey mustard dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl or a jar and mix, or shake until combined, set aside for serving.

For the salad, turn the saucepan full of quinoa upside down over a mixing bowl and tap it out, don’t stir it otherwise it may turn stodgy. Add the spinach to the quinoa and gently toss through the pumpkin; you don't want to break it up.

To serve, spoon onto four plates and top with a sliced chicken breast before drizzling around the dressing, avoiding the skin of the chicken so it maintains its crunch.


• You don't want to burn the skin of the chicken when frying it; you want it to be nice and crunchy, so monitor it and, if need be, turn the heat down slightly. As with everything in the kitchen, practice makes perfect.


Recipe from The Healthy Cook by Dan Churchill, with photographs by Michael Marchment.