Chicken and Waffle Salad
March 19, 2019 by Nicole Collins
It’s possible we’re going to fall on both the naughty list and the nice list today.
Don’t tell Santa!
I know it’s no where near Christmas time so this conversation is totally not seasonally appropriate, but I love Christmas. So, we’re talking about Christmas for a few minutes today.
My little nephew is at the age where he can be threatened with the old “I’m going to tell Santa about this behavior” gag. I remember being at the house with him a few weeks before Christmas while he was acting up, and his grandma got Santa right on the phone (via one of those Santa apps) to give him a message. The kid stopped dead in his tracks.
I could barely keep it together trying not to crack up laughing watching this guy see Christmas slip through his fingers because he was acting naughty.
I bet parents love it when their kids fall right in that sweet spot of an age where they can use the “Santa’s watching” excuse all year long. I bet the best behaved children fall between the ages of 4-8 for this reason alone!
I’m sure Santa has his eye on us grown ups too, but we certainly have the freedom to be a little naughtier without Christmas repercussions.
No, all of our repercussions fall on our waistline…
Today, we’re being mostly nice with a little naughty for a perfectly balanced, delicious meal.
Today, we’re having Chicken and Waffle Salad!
We start by oven frying some chicken tenders. The chicken gets breaded in crushed cornflakes, placed on a baking rack, spritzed with cooking spray, then baked until it’s golden and crispy. The chicken gets nice and crunchy while still soft and tender on the inside. You won’t even miss the fact that they weren’t bathed in oil. Honestly, I don’t even need the rest of the salad. Just leave me with this chicken, and I’ll be good.
But then again, there are lots of other good things in this salad. We’ve got crispy bacon, gooey soft boiled eggs, sharp shredded cheddar cheese, and crunchy romaine lettuce. And, we’ve also got toasted waffle croutons!
You can’t have chicken and waffles without waffles, right? So, we’re going to make our lives a little easier by using store bought freezer waffles. They get toasted in the skillet in some butter instead of popping them in the toaster. Then, we cut them in to cute little crouton squares to finish our salad. This is the naughty part of our salad, if you couldn’t already tell. But, I used a whole wheat waffle, so I don’t feel THAT bad about it. :
I love eating chicken and waffles with something sweet, so I made a maple dijon dressing to pour over our salad. This adds the perfect sweet note to a nice and savory salad which brings balance and harmony to every bite.
So now that you know all the goodness that’s going in our salad, I can ask you: is this salad breakfast, lunch, dinner? All of the above, you say? No problemo! We did manage to find the perfect balance between naughty and nice, after all.
I think I’m going to go create a Christmas countdown while I dig in to some of this salad. Seems like the right thing to do at this time.
I hope you guys enjoy, and let’s eat!
Chicken and Waffle Salad
Serves: 4 Print
For the Oven Fried Chicken:
1 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tenders
3 cups cornflakes, crushed
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp seasoned salt
salt and pepper, to taste
cooking spray (I use canola cooking spray)
For the Maple Dijon Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
For the Salad:
6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 soft boiled eggs, quartered
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 toaster waffles, frozen
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Make the Oven Fried Chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray a baking rack generously with cooking spray, and place on top of the baking sheet. Set aside.
Prepare your breading station: Place cornflake crumbs in to one small bowl. In a second bowl, add eggs and beat generously with a fork. Make sure there are no clumps of egg white that haven't broken down. In a third bowl, combine flour and seasoned salt.
Coat the chicken: Season chicken tenders with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides. Using tongs, take chicken, one piece at a time, and coat in flour mixture. Shake off excess flour. Next, coat the chicken in the egg and let any excess drip off. Finally, Coat chicken in cornflake crumbs, gently pressing to adhere. Place on prepared baking rack. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated. Space chicken pieces on the baking rack so they do not touch. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray to coat. Bake for 18-22 mins until chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Set aside.
Meanwhile, make the Maple Dijon Dressing: In a bowl, add olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard, vinegar, and 1/8 tsp each salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
Make the Waffle Croutons: Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add frozen toaster waffles. Cook for 3-4 mins til golden brown, flip, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Cut into bite sized pieces.
Assemble the Salad: Divide lettuce, bacon, eggs, cheese, chicken, and waffle croutons evenly between 4 salad bowls. Top with dressing. Serve immediately.
*To make the soft boiled eggs: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add eggs, and boil for exactly 7 mins. Remove eggs from boiling water and place immediately in a bowl of ice water. After 2-3 mins when the eggs are cool enough to touch, carefully peel the eggs and cut them in quarters. Alternately, you could also use hard boiled eggs in this salad, but I love the extra gooey quality you get from the soft egg yolk.
*To crush the cornflakes, add them to a plastic ziploc baggie, and crunch with your hands until the flakes are a coarse crumb. Since cornflakes are so delicate, we don't need a food processor to break them down.
*I usually campaign that your hands are your best kitchen tool, but it is so much easier to control the breading process on these with tongs. You can shake off the extra flour and egg easily, coat the chicken with onion crumbs, and transfer them to the baking tray without having to worry about clumpy hulk fingers.
*The baking rack on the baking sheet is a necessary step to the process. It helps the warm air of the oven circulate around the whole tender so it gets nice and crispy on both sides! And, we don't have to stop and flip them and risk losing some of our cornflake breading!! Don't forget to spray the rack with cooking spray though, or it will stick.
*You could use chicken breasts if you have them as opposed to chicken tenders. Just cut them in to strips to make your own tenders.
*The aluminum foil on the baking sheet is just for easy cleanup up.