It’s strawberry season in Arkansas, and I couldn’t be happier. I truly believe that there are no finer strawberries anywhere than those grown in our state, and I love finding an abundance of ways to incorporate them into our menus.
While I seldom go pick my own any more, I do purchase quart after quart at our Farmers Markets and from local growers. I’ve even been known to find a water supply nearby to wash a handful or two to eat as I make my way home.
One of our favorite ways to eat strawberries is with smoked chicken in this Smoked Chicken Salad with Fresh Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing. Since our lettuce crop tends to be ready about the same time as strawberry season, I get to use it with this as well. I prefer the smoked chicken, but using baked or grilled chicken works quite nicely. Smoked lamb is another favorite substitute for the chicken.
Because it seems to keep the salad crispier, I always try to chill the plates being used for this dish.
SMOKED CHICKEN SALAD WITH FRESH STRAWBERRY-BALSAMIC DRESSING
2 Servings as a meal
Preparation time: 1 hour
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced
- 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
- ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely minced green onion or shallot
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar by half over medium heat; set aside to cool completely.
- Prepare the strawberries and puree to a liquid with an immersion blender or in a food processor; strain through a sieve and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the black pepper, thyme leaves, green onion, mustard and grapeseed oil
- Whisk in the pureed strawberries and reduced balsamic vinegar.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Smoked Chicken Salad
Preparation time not including smoking the chicken: ½ hour
- 2 smoked chicken breasts, skinned and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
- 2-4 ounces buttermilk blue cheese (goat cheese, Roquefort may be substituted)
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts, pecans or almonds coarsely chopped
- 5-6 cups fresh spring greens
- Coarsely cracked black pepper
- Fresh Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing (recipe provided)
- Layer the spring greens on chilled dinner plates.
- Top the greens as desired with the remaining ingredients.
- Add the fresh dressing and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
Note: This salad obviously has many possible variations. Use ingredients that suit your taste.