Summer Chicken Salad w/ Cilantro-Citrus Vinaigrette

Sooo... I just spent the last week up in Pennsylvania visiting family and gorging myself with food and drink.  I'm talking delish wine, wonderful cocktails, leg of lamb, fresh cut french fries, oysters on the half shell, tres leches cake, a table full of BBQ and sides.... and a chinese buffet.  WHATTT.  Ok, time to lighten things up a little bit - I have a beach to hang out on this weekend!

Chicken salads are my GO-TO, especially in the summer.  I could eat a chicken salad for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.  And late-night snack.  I genuinely love salads and I kind of build my diet around them...then when something fabulous pops up (tres leches cake with fresh whipped cream), I feel ok to indulge.  Everything in moderation, unless you are on vacation, then moderation in moderation, please.

The thing that makes or breaks your salad is the dressing -- bad dressing is just so. damn. bad.  It takes your fresh chopped/grilled/crumbled ingredients and ruins everything.  Dramatic?  Yes.  True?  Also, yes!  I've found a few bottled dressings that I can tolerate -- mostly in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, right by the produce -- but I really prefer making my own dressings.  Not only because they are the bomb... but because I can control what goes into them and how healthy they are.  I have two basic recipes:

Vinaigrettes: 2 parts acid (usually from 2 sources) + spices + 1 part extra virgin olive oil

Creamy Dressings:  1 part acid + spices + 1 part fat free Greek Yogurt

These basics can make an entire arsenal of dressings to kick up your salads -- all healthy!  Here's one of my favorites -- the recipe makes a mason jar full-o-vinaigrette.  Feel free to get on board with my salad ingredients or go ahead and use whatever is in your fridge.  The best thing about a chicken salad is that you literally can't go wrong with toppings....

Cilantro-Citrus Vinaigrette (makes a mason jar full)

Throw all of these ingredients in a blender:

2 large handfuls fresh cilantro, thick stems removed
2 bulbs garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp honey

Blend it up!  While the blender is on, stream in 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

On my fav chicken salad: mixed greens, thin sliced red onion, thinly sliced radish, diced avocado, mandarin oranges, candied pecans, crumbled goat cheese and grilled chicken!  

No comments