I needed a great salad for a potluck picnic last week. It’s summer so I had to use some kind of berry and I love a fresh salad with strawberries. I already have a scrumptious Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Glazed Grilled Salmon and the Berries and Nuts Spinach Salad (Cafe Zupa copycat) recipes on the blog so how to make this one different? Start with grilled chicken which is something I always have on hand. Add in my favorite toppings and a flavorful dressing and I have a winner on my hands. It’s so easy to pull together. It’s light, colorful, overloaded with nutritious fruits, vegetables, lean meats, heart-healthy fats–all the ingredients you want in a light summer meal.
I really like potlucks; in fact I believe in the power of potluck. That is, no matter if no one is assigned to bring something in particular there will invariably be a wide assortment of dishes shared. Ok, this time of year you’ll see an abundance of cut up watermelon but for the most part it’s quite a variety. But I have a few rules I follow when eating at a potluck party. Number one: Always bring something you’ll want to eat which usually means a dish that is all-in-one protein, vegetables and/or, healthy fat (think salads, casseroles), just in case there is a shortage of healthy main dishes. Number two: take a good look at all the offerings prior to loading up your plate because you want to be somewhat selective. Choose a healthful lean meat dish then pile on the fruits/veggies followed by a smaller amount of whole grain if available. Don’t waste calories on empty carbs like jello, white bread or pasta dishes; save your calories because you can bet there will be some kind of dessert that you just won’t want to miss. Eat slowly, enjoy all the delicious flavors and the wide variety of foods that make up the Power of the Potluck!
Back to this delicious salad. Start with dark leafy greens like an Italian blend or 50/50 mix of spinach and spring lettuce leaves. Add chunks of grilled chicken that I seasoned with some salt and freshly ground black pepper, sliced fresh strawberries, crumbled cooked center-cut bacon (it’s got to be Hempler’s), sugar-glazed pecan halves (I walk you through how to do this in the recipe) and Gorgonzola cheese. Oh so yummy! The Sweet Thyme Dressing is a nice blend of red wine vinegar, olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, garlic, salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard and agave nectar. Simple, light and filling!
Here’s to an awesome potluck offering that will definitely please the crowd–a summer salad at its best.
- Summer Strawberry and Chicken Salad with Sweet Thyme Dressing
- 8 cups torn spring mix or spinach leaves
- 2 cups cooked and cubed grilled chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and black pepper
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, topped and sliced
- 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 oz)
- 1/2 cup pecan halves (2 oz)
- 2 Tbsp sugar or Splenda
- 1/4 cup crumbled cooked center-cut bacon (about 6 slices)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp agave nectar or Splenda
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Arrange lettuce leaves in a large serving bowl. Layer the chicken, strawberries and Gorgonzola cheese on top of the lettuce.
- For the pecans: Combine pecans and sugar in a small skillet placed over medium-low heat. As the sugar begins to melt, stir constantly to keep from burning. Once sugar has coated the nuts, spread on waxed paper. Let cool.
- When ready to serve, arrange sugared pecans and crumbled bacon on top.
- For the Sweet Thyme Dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Cover tightly and shake vigorously until well blended.
- Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to combine.
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