Chopped Chicken Salad
Sometimes it’s hard to make salad a complete meal. Normally, salads are definitely healthy and good for you but it can be hard to make them at home and still be full. If I just eat an all-veggie salad, I’m generally hungry again in a few hours.
But this salad is another story entirely. It’s packed full of flavor and good veggies. Homemade croutons and a spice-rubbed chicken breast will keep ya full for a while also. It’s a great salad for lunch or dinner!
Chopped Chicken Salad
Yield: Serves 2-4.
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 scallions, diced (white and green parts)
1 stalk celery, chopped
3-4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, diced
2 chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 Cups stale bread, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
I used my house dressing for this salad, which I recommend, but you could also just whisk together 1/4 Cup olive oil with the juice from half a lemon and season with salt and pepper for a quick, light dressing.
1) For salad, chop all ingredients evenly and toss with crumbled feta cheese and about 1/4 Cup dressing. Set aside for later.
2) For croutons, chop bread into cubes and toss with olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper.
3) Add croutons to a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes until they are crunchy and lightly browned. Turn them once or twice during this cooking.
4) For chicken, rub with olive oil and dust heavily with chili powder. Grill chicken on high heat for 4 minutes a side and then finish cooking over indirect heat if necessary. If you don't have a grill, sear breasts in a hot pan over medium-high heat for 4 minutes a side. Then finish in a 300-350 degree oven until cooked through, probably another 5-10 minutes.
5) Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before chopping.
6) Serve croutons, chicken, and diced avocado on a bed of salad with sprouts if you're using them.
Prepping the Salad
There’s a few different parts to this salad, none of which takes longer than 15-20 minutes to make, so it’s a pretty quick meal at the end of the day.
You can do all the things at the same time if you can handle some multi-tasking in the kitchen. I wanted to keep my base salad pretty standard, but you should customize it with what you have on hand.
The name “chopped salad” should give you a hint that there’s going to be some chopping involved here!
Try to make sure that the ingredients are all chopped roughly the same size, then mix everything together in a bowl with the crumbled feta and some of the dressing. On the dressing, it’s pretty key to not over-dress the salad. For this recipe about 1/4 Cup of dressing should be more than enough.
Stir it up and set it aside until later! You can, of course, do this while you’re cooking the chicken and croutons.
Making the Croutons
I was pretty lucky with these guys because I had some leftover caramelized onion ciabatta that I used for my croutons. That made them pretty much the best croutons I’ve ever had.
But, of course, you don’t have to (and I wouldn’t recommend) making a whole ciabatta loaf just to make croutons so you can use any old bread you have.
Chop up the bread and toss it with a good drizzle of olive oil, some garlic, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Lay these guys out on a baking sheet lined with foil (just for easier clean up) and bake them at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. Check on them half-way through and give them a good stir so they’re cooking evenly.
The resulting croutons will be really nicely flavored and perfectly crispy!
Finally the chicken
I used some boneless skinless breasts for this dish because Betsy prefers that. For a dish like this I would normally do skin-on, but use whatever you prefer.
To prep the chicken, just rub both sides of the breasts with olive oil and dust them heavily with chili powder and salt and pepper.
When cooking chicken like this, I like to sear it really hot and then finish it cooking over medium heat. That means you have two options really when it comes to cooking:
Grill it: Grill the breasts over high heat for 4-5 minutes per side and they should be close to done. Move them to an indirect heat area on the grill and let them finish cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
Use a skillet: This is the method I used this time around just to change it up. I seared the chicken in a hot pan over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes a side and then finished them in a 350 degree oven for another 8 minutes or so.
This creates a nicely seared breast that’s not burned, but crispy and cooked through.
The key to cooking juicy chicken breast is to make sure you let it rest for 5 minutes or so before chopping it up.
And since this is a chopped chicken salad, you’ll want to chop up the chicken before serving it up!
Oh and if you can find a good ripe avocado, dice it up as well. It’s great on the salad.
Finishing the dish
To plate up each portion of salad, just add a good layer of your salad that’s already dressed and add on some sprouts if you’re using them. This is kind of a base for the other ingredients.
Then add on the chicken, croutons, and avocado and you’re ready for a great salad meal!
I had this salad for lunch and dinner last week and really enjoyed it.
Can a salad work as a meal? Would this fill you up? Leave a comment!