Inspiration for a meal can happen anywhere and recently it happened at my favorite place to buy artisanal cheese, Farmstead. I stopped by a few weeks ago for lunch and some cheese. Dinner that night was going to be just a snack of assorted cheese, cured meats, fruit and bread, so I thought.
To help me decide on my selections, they offered me a taste of their featured goat cheese. It was amazing! From the label on their container, they think so too! The cheese was creamy, soft, and just wonderful.
After I gathered a bunch of goodies, I ordered a black bean fillet sandwich for lunch. While waiting, I poked around the store and picked up very nice looking cookbook, What's Cooking In New England. Flipping through the beautifully photographed pages of food and places in New England, I noticed a recipe for a chicken and strawberry salad with goat cheese. There wasn't a photo of the salad, but a beautiful photo of the docks in Newport where the recipe comes from. I started thinking about what we had at home . . . chicken, strawberries, plenty of lettuce and nuts, and now goat cheese. Well, that was that - dinner was decided and I was going home with a new cookbook with wonderful New England recipes that I'm looking forward to making.
The recipe was simple, like so many other strawberry salads I've prepared. Just a few changes were made so I could use what I had at home, like red lettuce and plain pecans in place of mesclun greens and caramelized pecans.
An interesting idea in the recipe was marinating the strawberries in balsamic vinegar overnight. It was too late for that so I marinated the strawberries for a few hours. They were different and nice. But why mask the wonderful flavor of strawberries? I would probably use plain strawberries next time.
The recipe didn't have instructions for the chicken. So I simply marinated some chicken breasts for a few hours. Sauteed them. Then sliced them up.
To finish, the salad was dressed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Chicken and Strawberry Salad
Inspired by What's Cooking In New England
Here is my ingredient list to make four salads:
1 head red lettuce
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar (if marinating)
1 pint chopped strawberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
Chicken from your own recipe.
Marinate chopped strawberries in vinegar while preparing the salad or use plain strawberries since they'll be dressed with balsamic vinaigrette anyway. The choice is yours. Coarsely chop pecans or break up by hand. Wash, dry, and tear lettuce. Put it all together with the chicken and vinaigrette. Top with crumbled goat cheese.
Generally, a vinaigrette has 1 part vinegar to three parts oil. So I used 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil then added about 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. It makes a lot but we use it up fast.
Add all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously. Or, add all ingredients in a salad dressing vessel, cover and shake.