Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blueberry Pecan Chicken Salad

Although psychologically summer has ended for most us with the passing of Labor Day, we're still not far enough into the depths of fall and winter for main-course salads not to still be a staple of my diet, although their composition definitely evolves with the seasons. This recipe follows my oft-used formula of greens, dried/fresh fruit, nuts, cheese, and protein, and although it's not going to end up on the cover of Food and Wine, it's a delicious combination well-worth sharing. Healthy and satisfying grilled chicken happily coexists with sweet-tart blueberries, creamy, tangy goat cheese, and rich and crunchy walnuts, with just the right hint of sharpness from the raw red onion. Although this salad was even better earlier in the summer when I could get fresh Wisconsin blueberries at the farmer's market, I'll treat myself and splurge for an out-of-season ingredient every once in a while, particularly when I'm eager to culinarily reminisce about a season past. A warm, crusty roll with a healthy slathering of butter is the perfect companion to this salad, leaving you full, but not stuffed, with all your tastebuds satisfied by the diverse palate of flavors.

Blueberry Chicken Salad
serves 2

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
8 ounces mixed salad greens
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup blueberries
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
Salad dressing, for serving (I like balsamic vinaigrette or honey mustard dressing)

1. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Cook chicken breast until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F, remove from heat, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice evenly into thin slices.

2. Meanwhile, wash and dry greens and chop, if necessary. Distribute greens evenly between two large plates, topping each with half of the red onion, blueberries, cheese, and pecans. Add the sliced chicken to the top, drizzle with dressing, and enjoy!

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