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I can not get enough of huge, fresh, crunchy SALADS lately! I don't know if it's the warm weather or what, but I've been groundhog day-ing salads hard.
Growing up, I used to think it was so gross when my mom would put fruit in a savory salad, but now, I am ALL about it! Tastes change as you get older, so try things again, people! My favorite fruit add-ins lately have been berries -- thus, the berry theme for this salad. Something about the combo of the sweet and juicy berries paired with the tangy vinaigrette and feta makes this salad just SO GOOD.
Throw everything in one huge bowl and take it to a picnic as a side - srsly, it's a showstopper and people love fresh combos like this! You can also add grilled chicken to make it a meal.
So let's talk about this dressing... I put fresh blueberries AND strawberries right in there, so it's basically like an oil and vinegar fruit smoothie. Might be weird to drink... but it's bomb on a salad.
For me, there's a very exact salad science that goes into creating the perfect bowl-o-greens. And when I say very exact salad science, I really mean some loose guidelines that I sometimes follow.
Perfect Salad Science:
- Greens: Mix it up! I've been on the mesclun mix/kale train lately.
- Veggies & Fruits: Pick 2-3. Raw, roasted, grilled veggies - whatever you want! Berries, apples, citrus, be adventurous.
- Onions: A must, if you ask me. You pick: green, red, sweet, caramelized, pickled
- Protein: If it's a main dish. Preferably something grilled! Feel free to leave off if it's a side.
- Nuts/Crunch: Pepitas, walnuts, pecans, tortilla strips, croutons
- Starch: Optional, but some roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, or something like quinoa can really take some salads to the next level of heartiness!
- Cheese: Optional. If you do dairy and you want to throw in some cheese, go for it! I love to use feta or goat cheese -- they are super flavorful so you don't need to use much!
- Dressing : Get creative, keep it fresh, throw in seasonal ingredients! I'll do another post sometime on my very exact salad dressing formula - but the basics are, about equal parts of oil and vinegar (or other acid) + whatever other flavors/seasonings you want. I usually go heavier on the vinegar/acid/add-ins than I do on the oil, and I always blend dressings with my immersion blender for max emulsion (especially handy for blending up the berries)!
Grilled Chicken & Berry Salad with Very Berry Vinaigrette
[Grain Free, Gluten Free, and If you skip the feta - Whole30 - Paleo - Dairy Free]
Mixed greens & kale (2-3 cups per person)
Grilled chicken, chopped (3-4 oz per person) [optional!]
Cucumber, sliced (1/4 cup per person)
Strawberries, sliced (2-3 per person)
Blueberries (small handful per person)
Crumbled feta (1-2 Tbsp per person)
Chopped pecans (1-2 Tbsp per person)
Green onions, diced (1-2 Tbsp per person)
- If you are using chicken, grill it or bake it! I usually season it with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder for something like this!
- Arrange a big pile of mixed greens on each plate or bowl.
- Top each salad with about 1/4 cup sliced cukes, 2-3 sliced strawberries, a small handful of blueberries (or a big one, you do you), 1-2 Tbsp crumbled feta, 1-2 Tbsp chopped pecans, 1-2 Tbsp chopped green onions (white and green parts).
- Top with sliced grilled chicken (or don't).
- Drizzle with the Very Berry Vinaigrette and DIG IN!.