Sweet and Crunchy Salad with Chicken

January 25, 2018 by Nicole Collins

I love vegetables!

Conditionally…

I feel so grateful that I’m not one to turn my nose up at fresh greens. I’m happy that I can enjoy some cruciferous (<--word of the day!) veggies with dip. I love that you can hide veggies in baked goods.

BUT…I pretty much only like veggies raw. It’s a completely different story when you start talking to me about cooked veggies.

And then, there’s the whole orange thing. You know I’m not eating anything orange.

Hence, conditional love.

You guys should know by now that I have some texture issues when it comes to food, and I truly think that’s what my problem is when it comes to cooked veggies. There are some occasions where I’ll eat cooked veg (green beans, corn, asparagus), and it usually involves the veggies still having some crunch.

But, if it’s mushy, get it away from me!

I know they say that sometimes cooking veggies too far takes the vitamins and nutrients out of them. I don’t know if that’s true. But cooked veggies DEFINITELY taste different to me. Maybe those vitamins and nutrients equal flavor or something.

Who knows? But, I don’t like ‘em cooked I tell you!

Today’s salad has some of my favorite veggies in it! However, they’re only my favs when they’re raw. Ironically enough, the veg we’re using today are some of my least favorites cooked.

I had a tough time naming this one today. There’s A LOT going on in this salad, so you might still be at the top of the page reading the title if I’d listed all of the superstar ingredients in the title. And then, I thought about naming it something along the lines of a Cruciferous Salad (<-- told you, word of the day), but I barely know what that means let alone trying to explain it to you guys.

But in case you were wondering, cruciferous veggies are so called based on the shape of their flowers with their 4 petals resembling a cross. Examples are kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc. Or so they say… Thanks Wikipedia!

So, instead of giving you a laundry list of ingredients for the title, I decided to use my adjectives instead.

That means, today we’re having Sweet and Crunchy Salad with Chicken!

I think the thing I love the most about raw veggies is the crunch. And this salad has some SERIOUS crunch factor!

Now for the laundry list of ingredients. We start with the crunchy veggies: crisp fresh spinach, crunchy raw cauliflower, earthy green fresh broccoli, and juicy grape tomatoes. All of these things can be kind of a mouthful on their own. Anyone ever tried to shove a too big for you piece of broccoli and dip in your mouth at a party? Didn’t end well, did it? Or how about those salads that you have to fork and knife because the greens are bigger than your whole head? Yeah, we’re not falling down that rabbit hole today.

So, we chop the spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower in to nice and small bite size pieces. This makes them so much easier to eat. AND, it ensures that you have enough room on your fork for all of the other good stuff in this salad.

For the sweet, we’ve got a quick and easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette and some craisins going in our mix. And, you know sweet needs to be balanced by salty, so we’re adding roasted chicken and salty feta to accentuate the sweet flavors even more.

We finish the salad with one last pop of crunch by adding some shelled pistachios right in on top. It’s like a crunchy crouton, but so much healthier!

This salad works great as a make ahead meal, too. Just store the dressing separately, and dress the salad when you're ready to eat. Salads get a bad rep sometimes as being too boring or not filling enough. But, this salad can certainly not be accused of either of those things! This Sweet and Crunchy Salad is so hearty and filling, you’ll wish every day was “salad for lunch” day!

Ok guys…now that I’ve given you a super healthy and delicious meal AND taught you a new word (unless you already knew what cruciferous meant…then just the recipe for you today), it’s time to wrap this up for the day.

Next week, we’re getting ready for game day (and vacation!), so stay tuned!

Let’s eat!

Sweet and Crunchy Salad with Chicken

Serves: 4 Print

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

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

  • 1 bag (8 oz) fresh spinach, chopped

  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower, bite size pieces

  • 1 cup chopped broccoli, bite size pieces

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes

  • ½ cup crumbled feta

  • ½ cup craisins

  • ¼ cup lightly salted pistachios, shelled

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1 tbsp agave syrup

  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced

  • 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: Divide spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, chicken, craisins, feta, and pistachios evenly between four bowls. 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!

*You could use baby spinach or regular spinach for this. It doesn't matter since we're chopping it up.

*I like to chop the cauliflower and broccoli in to small bites (smaller than what you'd serve on a veggie tray), so that you can still have room on your fork for one of everything when you take a bite.

*I like to grate my garlic clove on a microplane so it's almost like a paste. That way, the garlic melts right in to the dressing without chunks of garlic.

*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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