Saturday, August 6, 2011

Berry-Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken

It is difficult to know what to name this beautiful salad. Balsamic Chicken Strawberry Blueberry Spinach Salad is just a wee bit I shortened it. Maybe when this post is up, you all can let me know what you think it should be named. I can't quite be credited with creating it, but I couldn't find its exact match readily available on the internet either so... Anyhow, one fateful day as I was running out of the gym on my way to something else at about lunch time, I stopped at the gym's deli and grabbed an interesting looking salad. It was spinach and strawberries, blueberries and feta cheese, with some sliced almonds and grilled chicken lying on top. I have always been a bit wary of fruit in salads, but boy, I can tell you, this salad has won me over permanently.

At the deli, the salad did not come with it's own dressing suggestion, so I chose my own, randomly picking the balsamic vinaigrette (which surely must have been destiny and not random), thinking somewhere in the back of my mind I had heard balsamic vinegar paired well with strawberries.
It was love at first bite. If you are something of a foodie, you know that there are some moments that live in your memory, when you take that first bite of something wonderful and delicious and heretofore unknown and your taste buds simply stand up and sing and you swear you can hear the hallelujah chorus as everything else fades away and all you know is that taste and the feeling that you've just made an life-altering discovery. Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic (maybe I've been reading too much Anne of Green Gables), but I know it was all I thought about on my way home. At every stop sign I took another marvelous bite. I began to think to myself, I must recreate this!

So, on our next shopping trip, I wrote down everything that I remembered from the salad and found a great balsamic vinaigrette recipe to make from scratch. The first time I recreated the salad, we had it alongside steak, so I omitted the chicken and it was fabulous by itself. But the next time I made a meal out of it, and took it up a notch by marinating the chicken in a bit of the dressing before grilling. Oh, yeah.

You have to try this- it's a fantastic easy salad that is perfect for a hot summer day when you don't feel like cooking! And it's versatile too, so put in whatever nuts you like (I used walnuts the second time) and your favorite cheese (although how can you go wrong with feta??) and change it up!
When we made this last night, I also had hubby grill some fresh peaches as a side/dessert.

They were so good! Sprinkled with just a bit of balsamic vinegar and liberally powdered with brown sugar and grilled until tender (a few minutes per side, depending on how ripe they are), the peaches were smoky and sweet, with a lightly charred, crispy sugar topping.

Berry-Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken
(printable version)
a KitchenJoy copycat recipe
serves about 4 (main dish servings)

About 1 bag (10 oz.) fresh spinach
1 cup (or more) fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (or however much you like) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup (or just a handful) sliced almonds or other chopped nuts
enough chicken to go around (we used 2 breast halves for the 2 of us and there was some leftover), marinated in the fridge at least an hour in about 1/2 cup of the dressing, then grilled.

Toss spinach, berries and cheese. Top with nuts and grilled chicken. Coat lightly with dressing on individual plates. Enjoy! Good served with rolls and grilled peaches if desired.

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