When the heat index in Ohio reaches 110°, there are very few things that sound good for dinner. In fact if I didn’t love eating so much, I’m fairly sure I could sit by the pool, sip on lemonade, eat a popsicle and call it a meal. But inevitably, as soon as I come back into the air conditioning, I am famished. The last time this post-sun hunger hit, I made the mistake of attempting to eat a full fat burger with a side of fries and a cake vodka milkshake in a restaurant that had to be 90º inside. (What were we thinking?!?!) Instead of making that mistake again, I think I will have this salad planned ahead. It’s the perfect summer meal – light, healthy, fruity, filling and of course colorful.
I’m not usually one to think that salads require a recipe, but I think that’s because I often times think of “salad” as a bag of lettuce tossed with bottled dressing. Granted, this is a little more work, but this salad is actually something I would order from a restaurant as a meal (and I’m not real big on salads for dinner). I’m also not a big fan of plain chicken breasts, but the citrus marinade really elevates them to a tender and succulent piece of meat. In fact, the lightly flavored and grilled chicken is probably my second favorite part of this meal. Second only to the abundance of colors you get to eat of course. So the next time you go to the pool (or ocean if you are so lucky), marinate the chicken in the fridge so you have an easy and delicious meal when the sun wears off.
Grilled Chicken Summer Salad with Sweet Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a main dish
- 1 large bunch Romaine Lettuce
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 8 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 red bell pepper, (or sweet baby peppers) sliced
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 6-8 tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries
- Toasted sesame seeds
- optional: diced fresh pineapple
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 of a large navel orange)
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup canola oil
To prepare dressing, combine orange juice, vinegar, dry mustard, sugar, sesame oil, and salt in a 2 cup measuring cup. Wisk until sugar is disolved. While continuously whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil to make an emulsion. Place the chicken breasts in a ziploc bag and marinade with about 1/2 of the dressing, for a few hours or overnight. Place remaining dressing in the fridge until ready to use.
Grill Chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
To prepare salads, divide lettuce between 4 plates, top with grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and dried cherries or cranberries. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Slightly adapted from: Our Best Bites