Do you ever go crazy at the market? This Chicken and Fresh Berry Salad is the result of me having that very problem.
It happens quite often quite often, especially at this time of the year. It seems that beautiful produce is beginning to pop up everywhere, whether I'm shopping at local farm stands or my neighborhood grocery store.
This week it was berries, they were so pretty and I had so many types to choose from. I came home with strawberries from a nearby patch, plump blueberries and glistening blackberries. I had rotisserie chicken in the fridge, along with avocados, and decided they would go quite nicely together in an arugula salad.
The only thing I was missing was the dressing, and nothing I had seemed quite right. Creamy with lots of fresh herbs sounded perfect, so I tinkered around with buttermilk, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and olive oil till the consistency was what I was looking for. A generous dose of finely chopped fresh herbs was the final touch. I used basil, chives, thyme and rosemary, but you could just as easily stick with one herb of your preference.
We love a little crunch in our salads, so I added some candied walnuts; a super simple recipe that takes seconds to put together. Just throw some walnuts in a pan, add a drizzle of honey, olive oil and salt. A short stint in the oven transforms ordinary walnuts to golden, sweet bites of deliciousness.
We actually ate this salad twice in a row and loved it both times. The first time was last night; I had thrown it together for dinner with my stash of lovely berries. It was so fresh and delicious, we decided it was definitely blog-worthy and would be perfect for summer meals. I made it again for lunch today and we captured a few images for you, before gobbling it up.
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup Feta cheese
- 1 small clove garlic
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest from 1 small lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the candied walnuts:
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- a pinch of kosher salt
- For the salad:
- 6 cups baby arugula
- 1 ½ cups of each fresh berries feel free to use whatever types are freshest and available. I used strawberries, blackberries and blueberries
- 1 large avocado peeled, cored and diced
- ½ cup sliced shallot or red onion
- 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
Combine buttermilk, Feta and garlic in a blender container. Blend on high for 1 minute until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a medium size bowl.
Whisk in Greek yogurt until smooth. Add mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to incorporate.
Drizzle in olive oil in a steady but very slow stream. Don't try to drizzle the oil in too fast or dressing will come out very thin. As you slowly add the oil, the dressing is emulsified, which means the oil and the buttermilk/yogurt mixture become one.
Add fresh herbs and stir to combine. Take a taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.
For the walnuts, preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine walnuts, olive oil, honey and a pinch of salt in a small oven-safe pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden, stirring every 2-3 minutes. I recommend using a timer. Watch carefully as they can go from golden to burnt in a heartbeat. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to keep nuts from sticking to pan.
For the salad, place a handful of arugula in the bottom of four shallow bowls. Arrange berries, avocado, chicken, shallot or red onion and more arugula in sections. Add a scoop of candied walnuts in the center of each salad. Drizzle each salad with dressing or pass dressing at the table.