Friday, September 15, 2017

California Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad

Last Year's Post: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Two Years Ago:   Mexican Baked Egg Casserole

I do love a beautiful green salad, don't you?  They're so refreshing and healthy.  One thing I've discovered is that if your salad has a large number of ingredients you can cut down on the amount of chicken to make it even healthier.  Of course, feel free to up the amount listed below but honestly we felt it was plenty and were perfectly satisfied.

If you marinate the chicken in advance, it's very easy to throw together the vinaigrette while the chicken cooks (or make that in advance too).  Then all you have to do is a little ingredient slicing and you're good to go.

One of my favorite tricks to make a salad even more appealing is to chill the salad plates in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so. It makes the salad seem restaurant-special.

Have you discovered watermelon radishes yet?  They taste like a mild version of a regular red radish but they're so pretty with the pink center and pale green ring on the outside.  I always have fun at checkout when I buy one because the cashiers never know what they are. Like the trick of chilling your plates, adding one unusual ingredient can elevate your entire salad to a new level.  Here's what they look like in the store - you'd never know how pretty they are on the inside.

 And take some time arranging the ingredients to make sure the colors look good next to each other.  My final suggestion for this salad is to use smoked almonds rather than regular almonds because again, it just adds a little extra flavor.  And it seems very California-y.

California Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 4

Note: because there are so many other ingredients the recipe calls for less chicken than, say, in a chicken Caesar salad.  Feel free to increase the amount as desired.

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken tenders or cutlets
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon kosher salt and pepper
2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1/3 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 watermelon radishes, thinly sliced (can substitute red radishes)
1 avocado, sliced
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
½ cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
Large handful of sprouts or micro greens

White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, basil, paprika, cayenne, and salt and pepper.  Between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, gently pound the chicken tenders or cutlets to an even thickness.  Place them in a zip top bag and pour the marinade over.  Close the bag, massage the chicken to coat evenly, and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight.

To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Keep stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high.  Grill the chicken for 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through.  Let rest, and then thinly slice the chicken.

In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, cucumbers and vinaigrette.  Divide among 4 large plates, preferably chilled.  Divide the chicken slices between salads, and surround with avocado slices, radish slices, cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and almonds.  Garnish with sprouts and serve.

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