I had the best idea.
One night I was craving a hearty salad with sweet-tart, fresh fruit vinaigrette. I’d already made salad dressings with lemon, orange, and tangerine, but I wanted to move out of the citrus family and try something different.
And that’s when inspiration struck – I could transform the classic combination of strawberries and balsamic vinegar into a savory salad dressing, with layer upon layer of flavors.
Juicy, caramelized strawberries, fresh garlic, creamy-sharp Dijon mustard, a tender kiss of wild blackberry honey, and aged balsamic vinegar.
Sadly, this brilliant idea occurred to me five months ago, in the dead of Minnesota winter, when strawberries—if they could be found at all—were dry and wooden.
That left me with 147 long, cold days to dream of ripe, juicy berries. In those 147 days, I wondered just what would happen when you roasted strawberries. I finally had a chance to roast strawberries last week, and as it turns out, this is what it smells like when doves cry.
The strawberry halves gently caramelized in the oven, their juices slowly seeping out and thickening, before they became the foundation of my new favorite salad dressing. I tossed the dressing with romaine hearts and scallions, then topped the greens with roasted chicken, goat cheese, and sweet-n-spicy candied almonds.
It was a very long winter.
Continue reading for Chicken Salad with Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette Recipe
- ⅛ cup brown sugar
- ⅛ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ pound almonds
- ½ an egg white
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 pint of ripe strawberries (2 cups)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 20 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast filets
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white with the water until frothy. Stir in the nuts and coat them evenly in the egg. Sprinkle the nuts with the spice mixture, and toss until evenly coated.
- Spread the nuts in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, stirring to separate nuts as they cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, break up any nut clusters stuck together.
- Turn the oven up to 400°. Hull the strawberries and slice them in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the strawberries on the lined baking sheet. Bake the strawberries about 20 minutes.
- Remove strawberries from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, puree the strawberries in the food processor along with the garlic. Add the mustard, vinegar, honey, rosemary, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
- Divide the vinaigrette in two and refrigerate one half. Stir the other half of the vinaigrette with ½ cup of chicken stock.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in an 11 x 7 baking dish coated with cooking spray; pour the stock mixture over the top.
- Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165°, basting occasionally with pan juices. Remove chicken and keep warm.
- Toss the romaine and scallions with the reserved vinaigrette in the refrigerator. Top with goat cheese, candied nuts, and sliced chicken.