It's getting to be that time of year again... the temperatures rising, the days are getting longer, and the sun is shining! (Except for this past weekend. Where did those 40*F days come from?! I'm ready for summer!)
I don't know about you, but as the seasons change, so does my palate. In the warmer months, I start to crave colder foods - smoothies, fruit, salads, ice cream. Oh, who am I kidding, I crave ice cream all year round. It's just much easier to convince my husband to run up to the Dairy Queen in the middle of July than in December.
Since strawberries are just oh-so-juicy and delicious right now, I've got a light and refreshing Strawberry Spinach Salad
for you today. Tender baby spinach leaves, topped with chicken fresh off the grill, sweet strawberries, toasted almonds, and tangy feta cheese. All tossed together in a simple sesame vinaigrette.
And you all know the best part about eating a salad for dinner? You can totally justify that carb-o-licious side dish. Grab a loaf of tasty Artisan bread from the bakery section or indulge in my latest obsession, Bacon Cheddar Scones
Now, for the salads.
Start with the toasted almonds. Just melt down a tablespoon of butter, add the sliced almonds and sugar, and cook over medium-high heat until they have lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. They'll start smelling really good when they're done; that's how you can know when to take them off the heat.
Once you've got the almonds done, go ahead and start the chicken on the grill. (Or if you want to make it even easier, pick up a rotisserie chicken! They're on special this week, just $5.99!)
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing. Minced onion, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sesame seeds, paprika, sugar, and olive oil! I like to use an old peanut butter jar (cleaned out of course) because then I can just screw the lid on tight, and shake it all up! Then it's already in a nice little container to pop in the fridge. (Again, if you'd rather go simple, pick up a bottle of your favorite salad dressing. Poppyseed would be delicious!)
[caption id="attachment_552" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Mmm... salad dressing."]
[caption id="attachment_553" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Shake, shake, shake!"]
[caption id="attachment_554" align="aligncenter" width="454" caption="Ready to go!"]
After you've got the dressing mixed up, slice the strawberries and set aside. Slice up the chicken and get a nice little assembly line ready.
For each salad, just plate up some spinach, strawberries, almonds, chicken, and feta cheese. Drizzle it all with as much dressing as you like, and dig in!
My husband and I enjoyed these salads outside on the patio. Here's to hoping that warm weather comes back to stay!
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Chicken
4 entree servings, 8 side dish servings
- For the almonds
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- For the salad
- 1 bag baby spinach leaves
- 1 quart strawberries
- 4-oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- salt & pepper
- For the dressing
- ¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- pinch paprika
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the almonds, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar or sealed container; shake vigorously to combine.
To prepare the salads, grill the chicken. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and grill over medium-high heat until done. (Alternately, you could cook on an indoor griddle or on the stove.) Wash strawberries and cut into thin slices.
To assemble, place baby spinach leaves on plate. Top with grilled chicken pieces, sliced strawberries, toasted almonds, and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with dressing, and serve!