Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
4 pieces of chicken
1 can mandarin oranges
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or nut of choice)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 package of spinach
Place chicken in a zip lock bag and pound with the smooth side of a mallet until flattened to about 1/2" thick. Heat up 3-4 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. While the oil is heating up, salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Place chicken on skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes each side on medium heat. Once chicken is done, place on a cutting board and let cool. While chicken is cooling make the dressing and gather other ingredients. Assemble salad to your preference.
For the dressing:
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Use a blender to mix the ingredients. It will produce a thicker vinaigrette dressing. One serving will equal 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing. One cup should easily be enough for 4-6 servings. Refrigerate and store in a covered container. Whisk before serving.
You really can't go wrong with this salad. We eat this at least twice a month. I buy the pre-washed spinach from Costco in a one pound container. Actually, everything I put in this salad I buy from Costco since it is so much cheaper there than anywhere else. I usually grill more chicken and then freeze the leftovers for a later date. You could also grill this on a barbecue grill if you wanted. I like to sugar my almonds because it gives the salad just a little bit of a sweet taste to counterbalance the vinegar dressing. I also like to use goat cheese and freshly shaved parmesan for this, but didn't have any so I just settled for feta. I like me some cheese. I have a little handheld food processor that I use to make the dressing in, but a blender does the same thing. The dressing will make more than enough for leftovers.
There is also another variation of this salad that I call my "go-to" salad. I take it to a lot of party's since I usually have the ingredients. In the summer I'll add cut up strawberries and blackberries to the mix, and if I'm crazy I'll add some green leaf lettuce too. I substitute the vinaigrette dressing for the following:
2 1/2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
Pound the chicken so it is about 1/2 inch thick. I love pounding my chicken...you should try it, you'll thank me for it someday.
Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.
Cook chicken until it starts to turn white around a good portion of the edges.
Since it is cooking in oil and oil get's hot and splatters everywhere, I use this shield over my pan to prevent that...or at least help prevent it.
You want your chicken to look nice and brown on both sides.
Now I'm going to quickly show you how to sugar nuts. It's very easy. Put about 2 tablespoons of butter in a fry pan and melt on medium-low heat.
Grab a handful of nuts and place them in the butter. Then add one more handful.
Stir the nuts in the hot butter until they are coated.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the nuts.
Give it a good stir for a few minutes.
Lay nuts on a piece of waxed paper to cool. There now, wasn't that easy? I like to make a big batch of these and then store them in an air tight container for later use.
The dressing: put all of the ingredients into the blender/food processor and blend.
I use this garlic. It's $3.15 at Costco. I'll bet you guys didn't know that I like Costco. Well, I do.
Go back to the chicken cooling on your cutting board...
Now that you have all of your ingredients together, assemble your salad. It's usually best to start with the spinach and then build it from there, but I'm sure you already knew that.
Look at how pretty your salad is. Now, devour it.