Aloha! I just got home from hula practice and I'm in such a good mood! I always feel this way after spending time dancing with my halau (hula group). I just love these ladies. They are all so...aloha, and that's the best way I can describe them. We have formal workshops and practices, but tonight was more of an informal practice, our hula "social" as we call it - it's more relaxed (but we still get lots of practice in) and we always bring food to eat since practice is during the dinner hour. Tonight there was homemade lumpia, shumai, pineapple salsa, salmon dip, and chocolate, among other things. Since it's Salad Week around here, I thought I'd try my newest salad recipe out on the hula sistas and find out what they thought of it. I'm telling you, this salad is like a flavor explosion in your mouth! One of my fellow hula dancers Brenda said, "I bite into an apple and I'm like, 'aahh' and then I get the bacon and I'm like 'ooh!'" You had to hear how cute it sounded when she said it. :) I'm happy to report that both my husband and my hula sisters loved it! See? All gone:
This salad came about after seeing this description on the menu at Indigo Kitchen where my friend Mahi and I ate last night:
Harvest Chicken Salad: Diced chicken tossed with chopped romaine, sliced apples, candied pecans, and blue cheese crumbles with a balsamic vinaigrette.Doesn't that sound good? I didn't order it, but I liked the name of it and thought to myself, "I totally want to make a harvest salad at home!" That got me to thinking about all kinds of ingredients I could put in a harvest chopped salad. Since the restaurant used apples in their salad and we live in Washington state (which produces the most apples in the U.S. - true story!), I thought it would be fun to add locally grown apples along with other Pacific Northwest ingredients like hazelnuts and berries. I used two kinds of berries that are native to our area - fresh blueberries from a local farm, and dried cranberries. And since I had leftover cabbage, I threw that in here too. Even our cabbage was grown locally, in Puyallup! I also added bacon because, well, it's bacon and it's delicious. There's a lot going on in this salad but it all goes together so well. I don't think I would leave a thing out of it.
For the dressing, I liked the idea of a balsamic vinaigrette like the restaurant had on their menu, but I was in the mood for something a little more sweet and creamy so I came up with a creamy honey balsamic dressing that is crazy good with this salad. This dressing is super easy and takes less than 5 minutes to make. I love making homemade salad dressings - they taste so much better than many bottled dressings and it's fun to experiment with different flavors like this one.
This is a salad that I want to make again, soon! It would be great for company or a potluck too.
All this talk about this salad makes me wish I had more of it right now for a late night snack...
Harvest Chicken Chopped Salad with Creamy Honey Balsamic Dressing
Serves 4-6 as a main meal or more if served as an appetizer/side dish
Ingredients for dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise (or light mayonnaise would work)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, finely minced (I use my fine grater/zester for it)
1-2 Tablespoon fresh herbs, minced (I had basil and tarragon so I used that - basil, tarragon, or parsley would be good)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Ingredients for salad:
4-6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped green cabbage (I slice it a mandoline first and then chop it)
1 cup chopped red cabbage (I slice it a mandoline first and then chop it)
2 cups cooked chicken breasts, cooled and cubed (about 2 breasts)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 medium apple (like a Fuji), cored and chopped (tip: add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice to apples to reduce browning)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (dried cherries would be a good substitute)
3/4 - 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, then roughly chopped (walnuts or pecans would be a good substitute)
4 oz. gorgonzola or other bleu cheese, crumbled (feta would be a good substitute)
4-6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, and fresh herbs and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add 1-2 tsp. of water to thin it down.
Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cabbages, chicken, red onion, apple, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and bacon. Add about 1/2 the dressing and toss to combine. Keep adding more dressing until the flavor and creaminess level is right for you. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold the blueberries into the salad at the end so they don't break up during the mixing process. Serve.
Little Miss Celebration, I Should Be Mopping the Floor, House of Hepworths