Saturday, January 28, 2012

Autumn Chopped Salad {and Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette}

I know, I know. It's winter. It's not autumn. And it's not salad weather. Well, maybe it's "salad weather" where you are, but here in the Inland Northwest we have piles of snow and icy slush everywhere. However, despite the cold (or perhaps because of it...) I decided a salad sounded quite tasty. Most of my winter cooking consists of soups, casseroles and other hearty, soul-warming food, but today was a salad day. Something about a crisp, green salad piled high with beautiful looking veggies (or fruits, in this case) takes the edge off those winter blues.
This is a fantastic salad. Come summer time, I am sure it will become a staple! I tweaked it from the original version, which I discovered on Pinterest (making a lot of good discoveries there these days!), and boy, was it tasty! It is a beautiful and filling main dish salad, or you could leave the chicken out and serve it as a lovely side to some tasty barbecue.
If you're having a "winter blues" kind of day, or if you just need to shake up the same ol', same ol' routine, whip up this salad and you've got the cure!

Autumn Chopped Salad
(printable version)
serves 4 as a main dish

7 to 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 chicken breasts, cooked to your preference (I pan-fried mine in olive oil and butter, drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar!) and cubed
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
7 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon), crisp cooked and chopped or crumbled
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Poppy seed salad dressing (I used approx. 1/2 cup)
Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used approx. 1/4 cup- recipe for homemade follows)

Combine all ingredients except dressings in large salad bowl. 
Drizzle generously with poppy seed dressing. Follow with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Add more if necessary.

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
(from back of Pompeian vinegar bottle)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil (or, since olive oil is expensive, I use part olive oil, part other oil)
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 TB fresh garlic, minced (I like the powder since it dissolves)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in bottle or jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine. Store in the refrigerator.

Source for Salad: Espresso and Cream Recipes

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