Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Saturday, November 12, 2011

California Chicken Salad

This is my all time favorite salad.  Combining sweet fruit, savory chicken and the fresh crunch of romaine lettuce, it creates the ultimate blend of flavors.  The whole thing is complimented perfectly by the balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  If the name sounds familiar to you, you have likely seen it on the menu at O'Charley's.  I've only copied the components and done my best to replicate the chicken.  Easy peasy and decadently delicious, you simply must try it.

You'll need:

Hearts of romaine lettuce
Boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Fresh strawberries
Craisins (dried cranberries)
Canned mandarin oranges
Candied pecans
Bleu cheese crumbles, if it strikes your fancy
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Making the pecans is easiest if you do it ahead of time.  They are simple but require a little attention so they don't over toast.  You can find the recipe here.  I made them exactly the way she did, but they were a bit soggy.  So, the next time, I popped them in the oven for about four minutes (whilst something else was baking; I hate to heat the whole oven just to do something for a couple minutes [not because I'm green; because I'm cheap!]) and they came out perfectly.  Don't forget about them in there though, or they'll be charred before you know it.

Season the chicken with a good blackening seasoning, like Chef Paul's, and cook thoroughly in olive oil on your stove top.

Sadly, sweet hubby doesn't eat salad.  He won't even touch the stuff.  So, since I am already making the chicken for my salad, I always make him his favorite meal, blackened chicken pasta.  This creates an absolutely chaotic kitchen mess, but everyone has got to eat....

While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the fresh ingredients by chopping the lettuce and slicing the strawberries.  Then add the mandarin oranges, Craisins, and pecans.  When the chicken is finished doing its thing, slice it and arrange it atop the bed of colorful goodness you just created.  If you like bleu cheese, which I don't at all, then you can sprinkle that on top of the warm chicken.

Lastly, drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.  After looking online and learning that O'Charley's balsamic vinaigrette is sold in some stores, I searched high and low for it and finally found it at Kroger.  Actually, it wasn't even on the shelf with the other refrigerated dressings; I asked the produce guy and he found it in the back.  Who knows why it was back there and not where people can buy it?  Nevertheless, I found it.  However, if you can't, certainly you can substitute another brand.  I bought Marie's before I found O'Charley's and it was good.  But, the O'Charley's is so gloriously tangy, it's really the best.

That's it, you ask?  Yep.  That's it.  Now just open your mouth, shovel it in and enjoy!  Oh, and in case you were wondering how dear husband's dinner turned out....

Always a big hit with him.  Brownie points.....


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