This Winter Chicken Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is one of my go-to salads in wintertime. It is filling and extremely delicious!
Salads are a great way to nourish your body and to help keep your immune system strong. We should all try to have at least one nice, big salad a day. And today, apart from sharing this delicious salad recipe, I am also sharing tips to help you become a pro at salad-making!
Eight Tips to Make Salad Making a Breeze:
Prep a variety of vegetables ahead of time
I love to keep diced celery, zucchini and carrots (in airtight containers) in my refrigerator at all times, so that I can have these all ready to be tossed in a salad bowl at any given point in time. These veggies I mentioned last fresh in the refrigerator for about 1 week, which is great because it makes my salads taste fresh too. However, you can choose YOUR favorite vegetables or whatever is in season at the store!
Have pre-washed greens available
I like to buy baby spinach containers or mixed green containers that have already been pre-washed and are ready to consume (no extra washing needed). However, I do love kale and I get all sorts of kale types at the grocery store for my salads, and fresh kale that is bought in bulk you do need to wash. What I do with greens that need washing is: I chop them up, place them in a large mixing bowl along with 1 part hydrogen peroxide + 4 parts fresh cold water, let them sit for 15 minutes, rinse them well, let them dry, place them in large Ziploc bags and then store them in the refrigerator. Easy!
Keep fresh, seasonal fruit in your kitchen
I like to buy whatever fruit looks most vibrant at the grocery store, or whatever fruit I find available at the farmers market; both of these are great indicators that this particular produce is in season, and seasonal produce is always the freshest and the cheapest! During winter, my favorite fruits to buy for salads are: apples, oranges, tangerines, pomegranates, pears and kiwis. But again, you can always select your favorite fruits or pick whatever your grocery store has in season at the time!
Keep a good assortment of nuts & seeds in your pantry
If you were to look at my pantry, you’d find pretty much every nut and seed available to mankind. That is because my husband and I both have sensitivities to different kinds of nuts, and we also have different likings of nuts and seeds. So why not keep a nice arsenal of nuts and seeds available for any and all occasions? When we feel like a salad with pepitas (or raw pumpkin seeds), we do that…and when we feel like a salad with nice, big roasted cashews, we do that! You can buy whatever nut and/or seed you and your family like…just make sure you keep enough of them available, so you don’t run out when you need them!
Roast starchy vegetables ahead of time
This step is one of my favorites. I LOVE to add roasted sweet potatoes or roasted butternut squash to my salads, as it gives my salads a sweet and creamy twist, taking deliciousness to a while new level. Are you in need of roasting ideas? Try these Crispy Purple Sweet Potatoes – they are bomb!
Grill protein ahead of time
You don’t need to get fancy with this one, as any simple grilled protein will do! I personally like grilling chicken or steak, but you can grill whatever you are craving at the time! I would say that grilled protein keeps fresh and tasty in your refrigerator for about 3 days, so make sure you only grill enough to cover you and your family for those 3 days. Keep grilled protein in an airtight container and always refrigerate! This Butterflied Grilled Chicken recipe is one of my faves right now.
Pre-make a few homemade vinaigrettes
This step seems like a lot of work, but it sure will make your salad THAT much healthier than if you were to use store-bought salad dressing or vinaigrette. Homemade vinaigrettes don’t have to be complex; all you need is two parts oil, one part vinegar, one part sweetener and a little salt and pepper to season. The oils, vinegar and sweeteners you use can be of your choosing, so get creative and experiment…or if you want straightforward, just follow one of my vinaigrette recipes. You’ll want to use about one to two tablespoons of homemade vinaigrette per individual salad bowl!
Put it all together
This is the easiest step of them all, and it will typically occur at a time when you’re hungry, so it being simple is GOOD! Start by adding greens, chopped or diced vegetables, fruits, and nuts (or seeds) to a bowl. Then drizzle a tablespoon or two of your homemade vinaigrette on top, toss salad to make sure everything gets lightly coated, and voila, your meal is served!
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ½ apple
- ½ avocado
- ¼ cup celery, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon roasted and unsalted sunflower seeds
- 4 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp honey
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 2 organic chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp grape seed oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 large purple sweet potato
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- ½ tsp sea salt, divided
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Grill the chicken: coat chicken with oil, salt and pepper, and grill on medium-high for about 20 minutes (or until no longer pink), flipping them half way. Remove from grill, let them rest and slice them into strips.
- Bake the potatoes: Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut potatoes into 1” cubes and place them in a large pot; add enough cold water to cover potatoes by 1”, add ½ tsp of salt, bring to a boil and let simmer for 8 minutes. Drain water completely. Distribute potatoes in a baking dish, drizzle melted coconut oil, sprinkle sea salt and pepper, and gently fold to coat. Bake for 40 minutes, moving them around half way to avoid burning. Remove from oven.
- Make vinaigrette: add vinaigrette ingredients to a bowl and whisk vigorously to emulsify.
- Assemble salad: add spinach to a salad bowl, drizzle vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Top with apples, avocado, sweet potatoes, celery, sunflower seeds, and sliced grilled chicken. Serve right away.
- Salad bowl
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Small bowl
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons