Tis the season of breaking out the grill, and to celebrate, I wanted to share a chicken salad worthy of the occasion. For this salad, I used grilled chicken breasts seasoned generously with salt, pepper and Stokli’s High Desert Herbs, a blend you can always throw together yourself by mixing equal parts of all or some of marjoram, sage, lavender, rosemary, red chile and thyme.
The dressing base starts with plain Greek yogurt resulting in a bright, refreshing, not-heavy sauce for the chicken, grapes and vegetables. My favorite thing about this salad is the flavors of the grilled chicken, yogurt, grapes, herbs and jalapeño playing off one another. The jalapeño is optional, but if you like a bit of heat, I highly recommend giving it a try.
For this salad, I love to incorporate a dark leafy green to the mix. In this case, I had some beautiful spinach I picked up last weekend from Reunity Resources Farm. I added red grapes for a burst of sweetness, celery for a crunch and green onions for a savory, grounding heat. I can easily imagine adding cucumbers, sweet corn, peaches, peppers, fire-roasted chiles or cherry tomatoes as the summer continues.
The mixture can be enjoyed on its own, on top of greens as a salad, over quinoa or on bread as a sandwich. With a salad like this, there are no rules, only possibilities. If you prefer a vegetarian version, you could skip the chicken altogether and use roasted cauliflower, potato or broccoli. The only rule here is knowing you have the freedom to make it your own all summer long.
Grilled Chicken Salad
Makes: 6-8 servings; total time: 1 hour
For the chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
High Desert Herbs or other favorite dried herbs like thyme, lavender, sage
For the dressing:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Red chile powder to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
4 cups spinach leaves, sliced
1 cup packed basil leaves, sliced
5 green onions (scallions), sliced
1 cup diced celery hearts and leaves
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced, to taste (optional)
Preparation: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Drizzle the chicken with a bit of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Cook the chicken until fully cooked and reads 165 degrees on a thermometer inserted horizontally into the thickest part of the breast. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before dicing it and allowing it to fully cool.
While the chicken is cooking and cooling is the perfect time to make the rest of the salad. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, red chile powder if using and a pinch of salt and pepper. To this dressing, add the grapes, spinach, basil, green onions, celery and jalapeño if using. Once the chicken is diced and completely cool, add to the rest of the salad and stir well until everything is coated.
Give the salad a taste and add salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to the refrigerator until ready to serve. This salad can be made up to two days ahead.