Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Chicken Salad with Candied Nuts, Balsamic Onions, and Blue Cheese

This salad reminds me of the type you'd pay $12 for at a fancy salad spot like Mixt Greens, but it's very easy to put together at home.  I think the key to satisfying winter salads is to add lots of luxurious add-ons.  In this case, simple sauteed chicken and greens are combined with spicy, crunchy candied nuts, balsamic red onions, and funky blue cheese.  The salad is super flavorful and really fun to eat.  I used leftover candied nuts from this Bourbon-Kabocha Squash Soup, but you can easily make a new batch for this recipe or pick up a package at the grocery.  For another shortcut, you can also use rotisserie chicken for the protein.  Either way, this salad made for the perfect blizzard food during Snowmageddon!

Winter Chicken Salad with Candied Nuts, Balsamic Onions, and Blue Cheese (adapted from From the Kitchen, original recipe here)
Serves 2

For the balsamic onions:
1 T softened butter
2 small (or 1 large) red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
2 T olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

For the chicken:
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp balsmic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

To serve:
Mixed salad greens
Crumbled blue cheese
Leftover spicy candied nuts from Bourbon-Kabocha Squash Soup (or make new ones)

1. Make the onions.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 or 9x13 Pyrex baking pan with the butter. Add the onions in a single layer, and then sprinkle with the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Roast until tender and nicely caramelized, about 30-40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so.
2. Prepare the chicken.  Trim the chicken breast of excess fat.  Place the chicken between two pieces of parchment paper and pound out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 2 pieces.  Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and cook until cooked through, 5 or so minutes on each side.
3. Prepare the dressing. Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, screw on the lid, and shake to combine.
4. Assemble the salad.  Toss the greens with about half the dressing, and divide among two plates.  Top with the chicken, onions, blue chese, and nuts.  Serve with additional dressing as you like.

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