Strawberry Chicken Salad with Poppyseed Dressing & Candied Walnuts

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Strawberries are in season (aka they’re cheap and delicious), so it’s time to throw them on anything and everything. This salad is a combo that popped up in my head, but I think it’s a good basis for other fruit/chicken salads. You could easily sub out blueberries for the strawberries, pecans for the walnuts, blue cheese for the feta, or whatever other substitutions match your taste. I would, however, use the poppy seed dressing below because it really compliments the sweetness of fresh summer fruit.

You can buy pre-candied nuts, but they really only take a few minutes on the stove. Really, 5 minutes to cook and 5 minutes to cool. I like making my own because I like to adjust the salt and spices based on what kind of salad I’m making. For this salad, I used cinnamon, sugar and salt, but sometimes I like to add a little cayenne so they are sweet and spicy.

We have this salad with a fresh loaf of homemade focaccia (recipe to come!) to round out the meal… so basically it’s a deconstructed sandwich with extra greens. SHOWER THOUGHTS.

Strawberry Chicken Salad with Poppyseed Dressing & Candied Walnuts
serves 4 as a light entree, 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
two chicken breasts, seasoned generously with salt and pepper, grilled and sliced
4 oz of crumbled bacon (optional)
8 cups of greens, a mix of spinach and romaine is recommended
1 cup of strawberries, sliced thin
4 oz of feta, crumbled
1/2 cup of candied walnuts*
poppy seed dressing, recipe follows

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately.

Poppy Seed Dressing
serves 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp shallot
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp mayonnaise (optional, but it helps stabilize the dressing)
1 tsp poppy seeds
6 tablespoons of olive oil

In a food processor or blender, pulse together balsamic vinegar, shallot, honey, mustard, mayo and poppy seeds. With the machine running, slowly stream in oil and blend until thick and creamy. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.

*Note: To candy walnuts, add 1 cup of walnuts, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 Tbs of butter and any additional spices you want (ex: a couple of pinches of salt and a couple dashes of cinnamon) to a small skillet. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar starts to caramelize and walnuts become toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. When the nuts are ready, quickly turn them onto a piece of parchment paper and separate using two spatulas. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before using.

Dressing recipe adapted from A Hint of Honey

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