Harvest Chicken Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette

October 10, 2017

I've decided that the best way to beat the fall blues is 80+ degree weather!

I am sooooo loving that it's pretty much mid October, and I'm still strolling around in sleeveless dresses and flip flops! This is the type of fall weather I'm built for.

Though, I must say, I'm not a huge fan of the 30 degree temperature span that we cover over the course of the day. In the 50's when I leave for work, and in the 80's when I come home. Not my favorite.

But if the alternative is 50's-60's all day, I'll certainly keep what I've got.

I've told you many many times before that this is not my time of year. I definitely go in to hibernation mode during fall and winter. But, this Indian Summer that the East Coast is having has been AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

I also told you guys that I was really nervous to cook for you in colder months. I'm totally inspired by the bounties of fresh produce that the summer brings, so I wasn't sure the brain was going to know what to do with the flavors of the fall season.

But somehow, the ideas have been flowing! And, I'm loving all of the yummy stuff that's been coming out of my brain (and my kitchen) lately.

Even though it's still warm out here in Baltimore, I do feel like the season naturally brings the need for comforting food that's a little on the heartier side. I'm not mad about that one bit! But, it does make me feel the need to lighten things up every now and again.

So, that's what we're doing today.

You see, we can still celebrate the flavors of fall like apple and maple while eating a healthy and delicious meal! I totally support salads as a main course, but that just seems like a concept that I reserve for the spring and summer months.

Well, not any more!

This is one of my favorite salads to make...period. Though it's totally fall appropriate, I absolutely eat it all year long!

There's so much good stuff in this salad. I like to use spring greens (which is ironic since this is a fall salad lol), because I like the variety of dark leafy greens that you get in the mix. You can use your favorite lettuce mix, of course, but definitely stick with the darker greens. It pairs so well with some of the sweet stuff we toss in the salad.

Speaking of sweet stuff, let's talk about that for a second. We've got 3 things in here that fall in the “sweet” category: apple, glazed pecans, and maple cider vinaigrette. But, don't worry; this is not a sugar rush disguised as a salad. Because, we've got just as much salty stuff in here to totally balance the sweet: feta, bacon, and roasted chicken.

I mean, it doesn't get much better than that!

You guys know I like to hit all of the texture and flavor notes in my meals, and this one is no different. Make sure you get one of everything is each bite. Crunchy, crispy, crumbly, soft, salty, sweet, fresh, hearty....ahhh! Flavor bomb overload!

And then, we toss it all with a homemade sweet and tangy maple cider vinaigrette that only takes a few minutes to whip up. A little apple cider vinegar and a lot of maple syrup are the stars in that show!

Now, for the chicken, you could totally cheat and use leftover chicken or a store bought rotisserie chicken. But, I like to roast my own chicken breast seasoned with a course seasoned salt; and I think that just adds another layer of salt to help balance out the sweet. But, do whatever is easiest for you.

Either way...I'm telling you, it's so delicious!

I'm going to hang on to the warm weather for as long as it will let me, but this salad will still be in the rotation even when the chill officially catches in the air.

So, enjoy! And, let's eat!!

Harvest Chicken Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves: 4 Print

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • 1 lb cooked chicken, chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 6 cups spring salad mix

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

  • 1 apple, diced

  • juice of ½ a lemon

  • 2 oz feta, crumbled

  • ¼ cup glazed pecans

For the Maple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • pinch of pepper

Directions:

  1. Make the vinaigrette: Add all ingredients for vinaigrette to a bowl. Whisk until combined. Set aside.

  2. Assemble the salad: Toss the apple in the lemon juice to help prevent browning. Divide spring salad mix between 4 bowls. Tear greens with your hands. Divide chicken, bacon, apple, feta, and pecans evenly between each bowl. Top with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Recipe notes:

*I use roasted chicken breast tenders seasoned with a coarse seasoned salt for my chicken in this salad. To roast, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil, and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Lay the tenders on the prepared pan, and spritz the top side of the chicken with olive oil cooking spray. Season both sides with 1-2 tsp coarse seasoned salt. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flip the tenders, and put them back in the oven for another 8 minutes. Cool, and chop!

*I love spring mix salad mix because it has lots of different dark greens and red lettuces. You could use a mix of romaine and spinach, or any dark green combo you like.

*This is a GREAT make ahead meal. Portion out the salad ingredients in tupperware containers. Portion out the dressing in small containers. Make sure you don't dress the salad until you're ready to eat. Grab, go, and enjoy!

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