How to make Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute blackened chicken and quinoa salad

The first thing you need to do with Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals is give up on cooking the meals in 15 minutes.  It’s sort of fun to try it once or twice with the timer going on your phone and Jamie does make it look easy on TV but in reality these meals are more likely to take 20 to 25 minutes.  Which in fairness to Jamie Oliver is no time at all and less time than it takes to get takeaway delivered.   The good thing about Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals is that the recipes are perfect for quick week night dinners.  Unlike Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals the book doesn’t involve three course meals which is fine because on a week night after work who wants to bother with starters and dessert.  Oliver has also tried to be a bit more health conscious with this book so the mash has milk in and no butter and the Mexican tomato soup is thickened with rice rather than cream.  While usually I am all about flavour first I have to admit it probably makes sense in a cook book aimed for every day.

True to form the recipe for blackened chicken and quinoa salad (which is called “San Fran Quinoa Salad” but given our current quinoa obsession could just as easily be “Melbourne Quinoa Salad” or “Sydney Quinoa Salad”) took about 25 minutes.  I can’t really complain as that’s still pretty quick from go to woe to what is an impressive and delicious meal.  My chicken didn’t end up looking as blackened as Jamie’s so maybe next time I will be a bit more heavy handed on the spices.  The taste though was spot on – light, fresh and summery with some zing from the limes and chilli.

300g quinoa
1 fresh red chilli
100g baby spinach
4 spring onions, trimmed
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 ripe mango
2 limes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ripe avocado
50g fetta cheese
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp smoked paprika
Olive oil
2 capsicums

The tome that is Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

1.  Put the quinoa in the pan and generously cover with boiling water and the lid.

2.  Put the chilli, spinach, spring onions and coriander (reserving a few leaves) into a food processor, tear in the top leafy half of the mint, then blitz until finely chopped.

3.  On a large sheet of baking paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper, all spice and paprika.  Then fold over the paper and bash and bash and flatten the chicken to 1.5 cms thick with a rolling pin.  This means it cooks more quickly and is a great cheffy trick.

4.  Put the chicken in the frying pan with 1 tbsp of the olive oil turning after 5 mins until blackened and cooked through.

5.  Deseed the capsicums, cut into strips and add to the frying pan then peel and cut the mango into chunks and set aside.

6.  Drain the quinoa and rinse under the cold tap then drain again and tip onto a big platter or board.  Toss with the blitzed spinach mixture, squeeze over the lime juice, add the remaining olive oil, mix well and season to taste.

7.  Sprinkle the mango chunks and cooked capsicums over the quinoa.  Half and destone the avocado and then cut into chunks and place over the salad.

8.  Slice up the chicken, toss the slices in any juices and add to the salad then scatter over the fetta and remaining coriander leaves.

Serves four. 

Inside Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

Recipe adapted from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals.  I was sent a review copy of the book by Penguin.  


  1. This looks great Cara! I hear you about Jamie’s meals. I’ve been trying to cook some meals from his 30 min meal book and I consider myself quite a fast cook and they definitely take me more than 30 mins!!!

  2. I have taken to doubling the recommended 15 minute time and find that words well 🙂 I like to clean up as I go and wash most pans (etc) before sitting down to eat, so that time is including that too.

    This salad looks great!

  3. Ahh that looks good. Great healthy lunchbox meal as well!

  4. Agreed, a whole meal in under 30 is still pretty amazing, and do a dish once or twice and you get much quicker at it. Your blog is fabulous Cara! xx Kate

  5. Jules – Yes his 30 min meals is more like 45 mins for me!

    Kari – As long as you don’t leave yourself only 15 minutes to make the meal I think it works well

    Vintage Macaroon – The leftovers did go down well I must admit.

    Kate – You are right the more you cook a dish the faster you get. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I know it defeats the healthy point, but i would totally leave that chicken skin on – crispy blackened skin.. mmmm! On another note, i do like that 15min book – as yuo said, it’s really c30mins, particularly if you forgo things like using a food blender/mixer (I find chopping therapeutic)

  7. Anon – Yes how good is crispy chicken skin – love it!

  8. without the chicken this is an excellent vegan meal!sub some organic soybeans or other legume to make complete protien.

  9. G’day Cara, your salad looks YUM, true!
    I must admit, I like crispy skin chicken too!
    Cheers! Joanne

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