This salad! I do dare to admit that I have wolfed down large servings of this salad on several separate occasions, because it is just so good that I could not stop myself.
As I have alluded to in the past, I am quite picky about salad, and it takes a lot of salad magic for me to rave about one. I’ve surely eaten a lot of ho-hum salads in my life, thus making me less than enthusiastic about most leafy salads. But this one has got to be in the top 5 most memorable salads of my life. The other most memorable salads being:
- My favorite side salad evrrrrr….Mandarin Lettuce Salad with Sugared Almonds, which I recently posted on the site.
- Panera’s Fuji Apple Salad, which I hope to recreate someday and make even better than the original.
- Strawberry Poppy Seed Spinach Salad – red and green = a happy heart forever.
- Mixed Greens Salad from the Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais on the North Shore of Minnesota.
The combination of flavors and textures in this salad is fantastic. The chicken is extra juicy with a honey mustard marinade that caramelizes as it cooks. And while the chicken is so good you could easily enjoy it alone, when placed atop a bed of crispy greens along with smooth, buttery avocados, smoky crisped bacon, juicy sweet tomatoes, and slivers of spicy red onions it becomes a flavor explosion that is unbeatable.
This salad has a rather rich flavor profile, with smoky-sweet undertones, a hint of spicy mustard flavor and creamy avocados, yet it completely avoids tasting heavy when punctuated by the bright, fresh flavors of the tomatoes, onions and greens. It’s perfect for a summer meal that is deeply satisfying, but not too heavy.
So, invite over some friends and enjoy a backyard meal with this fresh, impressive salad as the main course. I bet no one will even miss the burgers and hot dogs when they have something this satisfying and delicious to eat instead!
- ⅓ cup honey
- 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 2 tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt, to taste (if desired)
- 1 pound skinless chicken breast
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- ¼ red onion, sliced thinly
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 2 tbsp water
- In a small bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients until combined. Pour half into a shallow dish and set aside. Place the remaining marinade in the refrigerator.
- Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut each breast in half by placing each breast on a cutting board and with your hand flat on top of it, use a sharp knife held parallel to the cutting board to slice into one side of the breast, starting on the thicker side. (This creates thinner cuts of chicken, which will cook more quickly and uniformly.)
- Place the chicken in the shallow dish with the marinade, turning to coat each side. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat with 1-2 tsp of olive oil. Cook the chicken breasts for about 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside to let it rest while you prepare the salad.
- Wipe the pan with a paper towel, then cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
- Combine the salad greens, tomatoes, avocados, and sliced onions in a large bowl. Slice the chicken into strips and place atop the salad. Sprinkle with the bacon bits.
- Whisk water into the reserved dressing, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin slightly. Add additional salt or pepper as needed, to taste. Drizzle over the salad.
You will likely have some burnt honey on your pan despite using thinner cuts of chicken for faster cooking time. This has happened every time I have made this dish, but don't worry - it doesn't burn on the chicken itself or taste charred at all. The chicken turns out with a lovely golden brown every time. I usually have to wash/scrape the burnt honey out of my pan between chicken batches, however.
The whole grain mustard pops and splatters a lot while cooking, so it makes a bit of a mess. I have not tried this on the grill, but I imagine it would work out great, with less mess to clean up afterwards!
Recipe slightly adapted from Cafe Delites.