Strawberry Crunch Salad with Chicken + Balsamic

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ChickenStrawberrySalad

Heyo! We’re back today with another substantial spring salad and this one contains two things I used to be pretty iffy about: 1. Fruit in salad and 2. Chicken.

First of all, fruit in salad. I get it, it seems wrong at the outset. Sweet and savory seem contradictory, but as anyone who’s ever gone mental over something salted caramel flavored can attest to, they actually complement each other. And that’s really what good cooking — or in this case, good salad preparation — is all about: combining complementary flavors that include sweet, savory, sour, bitter, and umami. Layer in some varying textures and you’ve got yourself a great dish. Promise.

Second, chicken. It’s true, I cook mostly plant-based at home, but I’m a reformed vegetarian/pescatarian who now eats everything simply because putting any restrictions on food makes me go a little crazy. I think people who are prone to obsessing about food (i.e. lots of people, especially women) can find both freedom and disorder from labels. Initially it can be a great thing that gives you full permission to embrace a bunch of foods within a framework, but it can quickly turn ugly with constant preoccupation about what you’re eating and not eating. All of this is to say … yeah, I eat chicken.

I don’t eat it a ton, probably about once or twice a month, mostly because it’s more expensive to get a good chicken than to buy chickpeas. If you’re not into chicken, swap it out for some olive oil sauteed chickpeas or lentils with salt and pepper. Easy.

Most importantly, this salad is all about tons of crunchy, juicy, fresh spring vibes. And the balsamic Dijon vinaigrette that brings it all together. Is the balsamic/strawberry/goat cheese combo dated? Maybe. Do I care? Absolutely not. There’s a very fine line between dated and classic.

I feel the need to mention it’s taken me roughly 6 years of regularly writing the word vinaigrette (between blogging and working as a food editor) to finally be able to get it right on the first try. I probably couldn’t spell it out loud though, definitely not. It might just be muscle memory at this point. We’ll count that as a win though.

Strawberry Crunch Salad

Serves 2-3

  • 3 big handfuls of greens like arugula or romaine lettuce (I used a combo), roughly chopped
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and sliced into quarters
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken (leftover from a roasted chicken is ideal), check intro notes for alternatives
  • 2-4 tablespoons goat or feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almonds (slivered or chopped)
  • Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper

Method

1. Make dressing by combining ingredients together in a small jar with a lid and shaking vigorously to combine.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine greens, chopped strawbs, chopped cucumbers, radishes, and chicken. Add a spoonful or two of vinaigrette and toss well with salad servers or a spoon so everything is coated evenly in dressing. Divide between bowls, top with cheese and almonds and another drizzle of dressing, if desired.

Note: If you’re making this ahead of time, assemble the first 5 salad ingredients together in a bowl. Reserve dressing, goat cheese, and almonds until right before you’re ready to serve.

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