The balsamic vinaigrette does double duty as dressing and marinade in this salad topped with strawberries, grilled chicken and goat cheese that just screams summer in a bowl!
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The first time I saw someone eating this salad, I remember thinking strawberries and chicken together in salad seemed a little weird...which is a surprising thought coming from a California girl who loves strawberries! To me, strawberries were something that you ate either alone, or as a topping for some very sweet and yummy dessert.
Well, then I tried the salad and realized that delicious was actually the word that should come to mind!! It's the ultimate summer salad - beautiful, juicy strawberries and a balsamic marinated grilled chicken. You will have to crank up your oven to get the nice crisp crust on the goat cheese rounds. But I promise it's worth it!
Just like this one, a lot of my recipes are inspired by something I had in a restaurant or saw in a magazine, and just wanted to "tweak" a little! I like to add my own unique take to dishes, to create something a little different. In this case, it was the baked goat cheese rounds, which also doubles as one of my favorite snacks!
One secret to grilling chicken for salads is to use the dressing to double as a marinade. It means you don't have to create a separate marinade and you'll get an extra dose of flavor in your salad. This balsamic dressing is a great marinade for chicken. It's got a great tangy flavor and it's something I've been using on grilled chicken for years. I often keep a jar of the dressing in my refrigerator so I've got it both for salads and grilling during the week.
Having grown up in Northern California, I'm all about California style cuisine. Lots of beautiful fresh produce, simply prepared meat and fish that's often grilled. These types of dishes are an especially good way to make your summer meal prep fast and easy. This salad has become one of my weekly go-to meals in the summer and is sure to add a little brightness to your day!
If you want to try another salad that incorporates fresh strawberries try this Califorina Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad.
things you may want for this recipe
I'm not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets, especially those that have only one purpose, however, I am a huge fan of kitchen "tools" - things that can make cooking easier and typically have multiple uses. Check out this post if you want to know about some of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. In each individual post, I always try to list out things you'll likely want when making that particular recipe. Here are two things that are useful for this recipe.
First is a set of breading pans from William's Sonoma - when you are breading anything it's useful to have nice shallow pans to mix the breading and then egg whites or any other ingredient that might be involved in the breading process.
The second is this salad dressing mixer, which doubles as a storage container. I've been making lots of my own dressings lately, and find this provides an easy way to store, then remix after a few days in the refrigerator.
Strawberry Chicken Salad
For the dressing + marinade:
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
For the salad:
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
- dash ground pepper
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh herbs such as sage, basil, thyme, tarragon, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 oz goat cheese, cut into rounds
- 2 3 -4 ounce chicken breasts
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- ¼ cup walnut halves or pieces
- coarse ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a gas grill to medium-high heat - about 450°.
- Combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well. through garlic in a Whisk in the olive oil. Place the chicken in a ziptop bag and add ¼ cup of the dressing. Place in the refrigerator until ready to grill. Set aside the remainder of the dressing.
- Place the cheese rounds in the freezer for a few minutes while you are prepping the breading mix. Mix panko, herbs and lemon zest in a shallow dish.
- Dip the goat cheese rounds in the bread crumb mixture, being sure to coat well. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the breading is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Place the chicken on the grill and grill for 6-7 minutes. Flip and grill for an additional 6-7 minutes until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice on a diagonal.
- While the chicken is resting, prepare the salad by dividing the salad greens between two bowls. Top the greens with sliced chicken, strawberries and cheese rounds. Sprinkle salad with walnut halves and pepper. Add dressing as desired.
Updated. Originally published in July 2015.