We both agreed that a salad would be a good idea for dinner, so I defrosted the last two chicken breasts, made sure that I had some mixed greens and then went to work. When I got home I looked through the fridge for inspiration and found some strawberries and asparagus, along with some goat cheese (I bought a rather large package of goat cheese and am making sure to use it as much as possible...something that's not that hard to do in our house).
Grilling the chicken and asparagus were a given with the stunning sunny and warm weather we're having. I made a balsamic vinaigrette and used it to dress the greens...I also used some of it as a quick marinade for the chicken. I macerated the strawberries in some balsamic vinegar, black pepper and chopped fresh basil.
All in all, this was quick and easy, big on taste and texture and, most importantly, very tasty!
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle a third of the vinaigrette over two chicken breasts, turn to coat well, and leave them to sit for 30 minutes.
Half a pint of fresh strawberries
Place in a bowl and grind about 1/4 teaspoon of fresh black pepper over them.
Drizzle a bit of Balsamic vinegar over the strawberries, and gently mix to coat them.
Set aside until needed.
Cook the chicken breasts on the grill, until fully cooked.
When the chicken is almost done, place the asparagus onto the grill and cook that.
Remove both and set aside for about 5 minutes.
2 tablespoons fresh basil
Add to the strawberries and mix gently.
Time to assemble the salad:
Toss the mixed greens with the remaining balsamic vinaigrette and divide between two plates. Divide the grilled asparagus between the two plates, placing it on top of the mixed greens. Thinly slice the chicken, and place one breast onto each plate, on top of the asparagus.
Place the strawberries around the edge of the plates, and add some crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans. Dinner, or lunch, is ready!
- I buy pre-washed mixed baby greens, but you can use any salad greens you like. This salad would work really well with spinach or arugula.
- Store bought balsamic vinaigrette can be used, but as it is so quick and easy to make, I usually do it myself. That way it is always fresh, I know what it contains, and I can add different herbs or spices to vary it.
- I know it sounds strange to add vinegar and pepper to strawberries, or any fruit for that matter. Both highlight the sweetness of the fruit, and when the strawberry juice combines with the vinegar it creates a simple sauce, or dressing, of its own.
- Try using peaches with balsamic vinegar; blackberries with balsamic or red wine vinegar and chopped fresh mint; melon with champagne vinegar. Play around with fresh herbs and different fruit as well...try tarragon, lavender, thyme.
- Marinating the chicken in the vinaigrette serves two purposes: it gives the chicken an infusion of flavour and also brings the different parts of the dish together. Use the marinade to baste the chicken during grilling if you like; if you don't then discard it.
- Any type of grilled meat or fish can be used on a salad like this...salmon, halibut, prawns or scallops, pork tenderloin, lamb chops.
- The goat cheese added a creamy element, as well as a tanginess. Other cheese you could use include feta cheese, Asiago, bocconicini (marinate them in some of the vinaigrette, or along with the strawberries).
- Thinly sliced beets would be a nice addition to the salad.