Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Favorite Salad

I am one of "those" people who loves a good salad. Always have. Even as a little girl, you could pretty much always find me at the salad bar if we were out at Shoney's or another buffet restaurant. "I'll have the soup & salad bar" was my order on the regular. 
Now, if there's one salad I could eat for the rest of my life (assuming calories didn't count), it'd be one with fried chicken tenders, cheese, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, and ranch dressing. I am a self-proclaimed ranch snob, and in case you're wondering, Shoney's was the BEST, which was the main reason I frequented their salad bar. ;-) Since I haven't visited a Shoney's since probably my high school years (after Friday football meal, anyone?), I've had to find other establishments who serve outstanding ranch dressing. I've found Baumhower's is pretty much the bomb. 
Outback's is an honorable mention, but it can sometimes be a little peppery for my taste.

But before we get so far off topic that I can't find my way back, let's get back to the best salad ever.
Over the years, I learned to appreciate different types of salads. These days I love it with some fruit, grilled chicken or turkey, and a light vinaigrette. Let's face it, a 30 year old's metabolism is not the same as that of a 16 year old(curse you, hormones!), so the days of eating fried chicken salads with all the cheese, bacon, and a gallon of ranch dressing are behind me.

Today, my salads look a little more like this.
A gross, cloudy day didn't make for the best lighting in my kitchen for pictures. Bummer.

Here's what I now call my favorite salad.

What you'll need:
- grilled chicken breast
- dried cranberries
- thinly sliced apples(I used honeycrisp)
- cup crumbled goat cheese
- chopped pecans
- mixed greens
- cider-honey vinaigrette**(recipe below)
(I'm not giving you any specific measurements because that's ultimately up to you. Maybe you don't like a lot of cheese, but like more apples and cranberries. It's all personal preference and a little change in ratio of these ingredients isn't going to make a big difference in the yumminess.)

How to make it(as if you couldn't figure that one out):
Grill you up a chicken breast (or use precooked if you choose). Slice it up so it's easy to just stab and stuff in your mouth. I hate when I'm served a salad and I have to cut up the chicken. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Toss together your salad greens, cranberries, apples, goat cheese, and pecans until it's all evenly distributed. You want to get a taste of everything in every bite. 
Top with sliced chicken breast and drizzle with a little vinaigrette. I use 1-2 tbsp. You don't need very much, especially once you toss it all together.
Toss again for good measure and devour!! Try not to lick the bowl, I dare ya!

You can also add some croutons for more crunch. I'd say you can sub feta for the goat cheese (and you totally could), but I urge you to try out the goat cheese if you haven't before. It's tangy and creamy and it just sort of melts in with the salad and coats everything. Oh, how I love goat cheese.

**Cider-Honey Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 tsp dijon mustard
2-3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together first 3 ingredients until well combined. Then, slowly drizzle in olive oil (while whisking constantly) until it emulsifies and thickens. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of s&p to taste. If it's a little too strong on the vinegar flavor, you can add a little more honey.

It's so easy and so tasty with this salad and really any other salad you want to make.

If you've never tried this kind of salad before, you should give it a try. You might be surprised by its deliciousness.


  1. I haven't made a salad with apple cider vinegar, I usually use red wine or balsamic. I am going to have to try your version!

    And goat cheese. Yummmm! My favorite snack lately has been goat cheese with cranberry crisps (crackers from Target.) So good!


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