Maple Chicken Salad
- 3 oz olive oil
- 3 oz maple syrup
- 2 oz Apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 heads of Romaine hearts, chopped into ribbons
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced in half rounds
- 1 large apple (Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp or similar), thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup candied pecans, chopped
- 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Whisk together olive oil, syrup, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Place chicken breast(s) in a gallon size zip-top bag and pound to about 1-inch thick.
- Add 1/3 cup of vinaigrette to the bag with chicken. Massage and marinate in the bag, in a dish, in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (no longer since the acid in the marinade will start to ‘cook’ the chicken). Meanwhile prep veggies and toppings.
- Heat grill pan or frying pan to medium-high, pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the seasoned side down (so you can then salt and pepper the other side) and cook chicken to 165 degrees.*
- Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting in thin slices, against the grain.
- Divide lettuce and top each salad with half of the toppings then dress with remaining vinaigrette.**
- *Approximately 5 minutes on one side and 3 on the other for a cast iron grill pan. Approximately 5-6 minutes per side for a frying pan. but I highly recommend a digital insta-read meat thermometer if you don’t have one. It will completely change cooking chicken for you for sure!
- **None of the toppings are prone to quickly getting soggy so you don’t have to worry about which toppings to add last and you can assemble everything before dressing.
Over the years, I’ve had some version of this salad at a few restaurants and it’s my go-to order if it’s on the menu. Often, the restaurant version includes blue cheese or even pecan-crusted blue cheese but I make mine with feta. I like blue cheese but I think the more mild flavor of feta makes this salad appeal to a wider audience. Traditional feta is a sheep’s milk cheese and many people with dairy insensitivities can actually eat sheep’s or goat’s milk cheeses (Just check the label because there are a lot of cow’s milk feta cheeses out there too.).
Another change I’ve made from some restaurant versions is that I serve this salad on Romaine lettuce instead of a spring mix. I’ve also used arugula but NEVER spring mix or mixed greens. I not only think this is a hearty salad so it needs a heartier green but I just despise mixed greens and oak leaf lettuce, in particular (the bitter leaf that’s a combination of green and red/purple).
This meal prep-friendly salad works year-round so I continue to serve it long after summer, I just move from the outdoor grill to my indoor grill pan and the apples, maple and pecans make it perfect for fall. It’s sweeter than some salads but filling enough to call a meal and the same salad minus the chicken would make a great side while hosting or for Thanksgiving dinner!