In an ongoing mission to make delicious salads I can stand eating 5 days in a row, each and every week, I decided to make a chicken salad with all the bells and whistles. Well, the toppings were actually food…but that’s sort of obvious I’d hope. I wanted to try something sort of new so I used spinach as the base and topped with chicken (which isn’t new, but baked chicken breasts make any salad super) and added in apples, Craisins, pecans and blue cheese. I topped it with a homemade vinaigrette dressing with lemon, dijon mustard and honey. I used this recipe from Epicurious because it was pretty much the kind of dressing I had in mind. I just wanted to make a tangy dressing that would play well with all the sweetness going on in this salad.
To get started, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and lined a small baking pan with aluminum oil. I added two chicken breasts to the pan and seasoned with Pappy’s lemon pepper seasoning and Italian seasoning. I wanted to use lemon pepper seasoning to complement the lemon in the vinaigrette, which ended up working out superbly.
Then I got going on the vinaigrette. I thinly sliced and chopped half of a shallot and placed the chopped shallot in a container. In the same container, I added in mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I blended well until everything was evenly mixed…
…then set in the fridge to chill.
Once the oven was ready, I put the chicken breasts in and baked for 45 minutes. When the chicken was cooked, I let it sit out to cool for several hours before cutting the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Then I placed the cut chicken in a quart-sized bag…
…and set it in the fridge to chill overnight.
The next morning, I took out all the ingredients to compose the salad. In a quart-sized mason jar, I added a layer of the vinaigrette dressing — just enough to evenly coat the salad. Then I added a handful of Craisins, apple slices, chicken, spinach and some blue cheese…
…and voila! How’s that for a mason jar salad? Looks super and tastes fantastic. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?
I’m really happy with all the great salads I’ve been making from week to week. It really breaks up the work day to have something lunch I actually look forward to eating. I’m contracting now, in a suburb with few food options nearby, so if I don’t bring my own foods my cheap food options are limited to Starbucks and Super America. Awesome huh? I don’t like spending on food during work anyways, so I love the fun salad idea. Here’s the work lunch salad in action:
Hopefully I can keep my salad options interesting enough to not get sick of salads for the next month or two…I’m trying to keep eating salads until it’s cold out — then I’ll start experimenting with soups to bring to work. I like bringing salads to lunch every day because then I’m usually get the fruits and veggies I need for the day between breakfast and lunch, so even when I switch to soup I’ll need to bring in a small salad or a fruit and veggie side and snacks to eat throughout the work day.
Mason Jar Apple Pecan Chicken Salad with Honey Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
2 handfuls spinach
1 apple, cut into thin wedges
1 handful Craisins
1 tbsp blue cheese
2 tbsp salted pecans
Honey Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced and chopped
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking pan with aluminum foil. Add chicken breasts to pan and season with Pappy’s lemon pepper (or any kind of lemon pepper) seasoning and Italian seasoning to taste.
- Once the oven is preheated, place chicken in oven and cook for 45 minutes.
- Thinly slice and chop 1/2 of a large shallot (or whole small shallot) and place in a container. Mince garlic and add to same container, along with lemon juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and set in fridge to chill.
- Once chicken is cooked, let cool for at least thirty minutes. Once cooled, slice and cut chicken breasts to desired shape and thickness. Place in an airtight bag and chill overnight.
- When you’re ready to eat the salad, add a layer of vinaigrette to a jar (depending on taste) and add in layers of Craisins, apple slices, pecans, spinach and blue cheese crumbles.