Monday, April 1, 2013

Roasted Chicken, Mixed Green & Strawberry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Local, organic spinach
Winter is over and spring has finally sprung which means that a whole slew of green veggies are starting to pop up at the farmer's market and my local co-op grocery store! This is a very exciting time of year! Salads are so incredibly refreshing and can be satisfying at the same time, if you top them with luxurious and unique ingredients. I rarely eat iceberg lettuce, I don't have anything against it I just can't keep my hands off all all the beautiful locally grown lettuces, wild greens and anything else that I may have never tried, in the green section of the produce department. The farms around me grow all kinds of lettuces boasting beautiful colors and flavors. There are also numerous health benefits to every  kind of green and I, personally, want to get as many different kinds in me and my family as I can. This particular salad is full of baby spinach, fresh basil and wild dandelion greens. In the spring time, the dandelions are delicate and slightly bitter which compliments the slightly sweet fresh basil and palette familiar spinach. When trying a new green I like to pair it with a green that I am familiar with so that you can "ease" into it  Some greens have very aggressive flavors and going overboard with them raw, in a salad, might end up turning you off.  Once you have gained some experience with a new green feel free to go full force if you absolutely love the super bitter, such as: dandelion, endive or beet/turnip greens (yes you can eat those).  I feel that some greens are sweeter, such as: romaine, baby spinach & fresh basil.  There are also peppery or spicy greens, these can be: watercress, arugula or radicchio.  Adding a green from each group will make for a very exciting salad and soon you will be searching out new and unusual combos as well! See, making a salad can be a very creative experience!

Now that we have established a base for your salad, let's talk about toppings!  I like to mix a few signature flavors in any salad; sweet fruit, salty cheese & a rich, tangy, homemade dressing (I never ever use jar dressing it's always better homemade).  This salad combines sweet strawberries, locally made, herby goat cheese & a homemade orange vinaigrette.  I absolutely adore these flavors together and was inspired by a balsamic & orange marinated strawberry shortcake I made last summer, which I then translated into this healthy and satisfying salad. When eating the salad for a main dish I like to add in a protein, this particular recipe uses leftover roasted chicken thigh I had from roasting an extra one in another recipe, click the link for my roasted chicken recipe. The rich, dark meat went well with the other bold flavors in the salad. I think a chicken breast may get lost in here, but feel free to use it if you aren't a dark meat fan.

One of my favorite things to make is vinaigrette. It's healthy, delicious and can be made with a few simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Most jarred dressings have a whole bunch of unnecessary ingredients in them and they tend to have a tinny (metallic) taste that I just don't care for. My rule of thumb for my dressing base is always: 1/2 cup oil to 1/3 cup of vinegar. I really like my vinaigrette's tangy and lower in fat, so if this ratio proves to be too biting for you, then go ahead and add a little extra olive oil to yours, no harm done! This particular recipe uses both fresh orange juice, zest and balsamic vinegar. The orange goes incredibly well with the both the strawberries and the dark, rich chicken thighs.

The salad portion of the recipe is for 2, feel free to double or triple.  The dressing portion will serve up to 6, if you use 3 Tbsp portions as recommended.



3 Cups organic salad greens, chopped, I used a combo of baby spinach, fresh basil & dandelion greens.

8 Fresh, organic strawberries, sliced.

1oz Pasture raised, local, soft, herbed goat cheese, plain is fine as well. I use Vermont Creamery.
3 Organic scallions, chopped, whites only.

1/2 Cup chopped chicken thigh, I used an oven roasted one without skin.
Fresh ground pepper*


1/2 Cup very good quality olive oil, I use California Olive Ranch.

1/3 Cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp orange marmalade

2 Tbsp fresh orange juice, about half an orange.

1 tsp Organic orange zest

2 Tbsp water

Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste.


In two salad plates layer, greens, strawberries, cheese, scallions and chicken.  I like to spread everything out over the greens to get a little of each ingredient on each bite. Set aside.

In a dressing shaker add in all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously till emulsified (creamy and thickened) about 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Place dressing on the side for dipping or drizzle over the top of the salad, I like about 3 Tbsps on my salad, but feel free to use more or less depending on your own tastes!

*I like to grind my own pepper fresh in a mortar and pestle when I add it to finish a salad or dish  Its very spicy and can be ground as finely or chunky as you like. Besides who doesn't want to use a stone grinder, I get it out whenever possible!

Leave me some love below and let me know if you enjoyed this recipe!

So, if I'm cooking, I'll be steaming vegetables, making some nice salad, that kind of stuff.
Paul McCartney 


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