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Friday, April 4, 2014

Chopped Salad with Chicken and Pesto Vinaigrette


Last week my mom, sister and I went to the Butterfly Wonderland exhibit in Scottsdale Arizona. We spent most of our time in the conservatory, which is a giant glass-enclosed atrium checking out the different species of butterfly's and enjoying each other's company. After spending a few hours there we decided to complete our day together with a nice lunch.


We decided upon the Wildflower Bread Company. This place is a small chain, that is a combination bakery and restaurant that specializes in great soups, salads and sandwiches. Their bread is amazing, and they make the sandwiches with their bread. I ordered the chopped salad with salmon and pesto vinaigrette. It was the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, salty and crunchy. I liked it so much that today's recipe is based on that meal. I substituted grilled chicken for the salmon and made a few other minor changes.


Now for the dressing. I believe a pesto vinaigrette should have lots of flavor and great color. I made this dressing in the spirit of a real pesto. Just added different amounts of the usual ingredients, except for the addition of white balsamic vinegar which brought a big punch of flavor. Make extra to drizzle on veggies and pasta. To store, keep refrigerated up to 5 days.

Ingredients:

For salad:

4 ounces arugula
1 4-5 ounce chicken breast (grilled)
1/2 cup pearl couscous (cooked according to package)
2 ounces feta cheese (crumbled)
2 red peppers (depending on the size) (roasted and chopped, seeds removed)
1/2 cup frozen white corn (defrosted and uncooked)(they used dried sweet corn)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds

For pesto:

2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper, to taste

To prepare:

In a large serving platter, add your base ingredient, which is the arugula. Then arrange all the other salad ingredients side by side in long stripes. Like the picture below.


Next, make the dressing. Add the basil, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, Parmesan and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste, add salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with dressing on the side. Enjoy,

Serves 3 to 4




48 comments:

  1. Cheri, what a beautiful and colorful salad and what a pretty and delicious pesto dressing. I really like the presentation of your salad on that platter, that way, each component can be appreciated even better - and what a delightful idea to visit the "Butterfly Wonderland", that looks like such a great place to visit!

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    1. Hi Andrea, appreciate your wonderful comment. And yes the butterfly place was pretty grand!

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  2. Very impressive, Cheri! I've been wanting to make a salad with pearl couscous for ages, but it's a fantastic idea to keep all the ingredients separate like this! It looks beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Helen! I love the texture that the pearl couscous brings to a dish. Happy week-end!

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  3. Pesto vinaigrette on a gorgeous salad like this - total salad perfection. :)

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    1. Thanks Maureen! the pesto sure adds a big burst a flavor to this salad, appreciate the comment.

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  4. This looks WONDERFUL - I love salads like this, so full of flavor, texture, color and great ingredients!

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  5. This salad looks sooooo delicious, I wish I could chuck my dinner plans and eat that instead! I was just in Scotsdale to visit my sister, and fell in love with the town!

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    1. Hi Sue, Arizona is pretty amazing in the winter months thats for sure. Happy week-end to you!

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  6. Love this salad and that pesto dressing sounds so delicious. I like your addition of couscous to this salad as it makes it more like a meal and filling for my teenage boys.

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    1. Hi Bam, when my son ran track I feed him enormous amounts of pasta, come to think of it I just fed him enormous amounts of food period. Good luck to you!

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  7. This looks seriously good! What a delicious meal this would make!

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    1. Thanks Karen! love your site, thanks for stopping by.

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  8. I use white balsamic for my mayo, and I'm going to try it like you've suggested here as it sounds fantastic :)

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    1. Thanks Tandy, it really brings a burst of flavor.

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  9. oh men....that's what I call a Salad! :) ela

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  10. This salad looks very lovingly made. I love when a meal out inspires something delicious at home. I'd love to have this any time!

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    1. Thanks Monica, I had fun making this salad.

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  11. The Pesto Vinaigrette on that salad sounds terrific! J+C

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    1. Thanks Judit and Corina, just visited your site and it is gorgeous!

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  12. How yummy! And it is plated so beautifully. I've never had a pesto vinaigrette, but it sounds delicious!

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    1. Thanks Tammy, it was a very flavorful vinaigrette.

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  13. This is a really nice looking salad... especially like that pesto you made. Really interesting with the white balsamic and lemon! Going to have to try that!

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    1. Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by, the combination of the lemon and the white balsamic is very flavorful for sure.

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  14. I love this kind of hearty salad, especially with such a flavorful dressing.

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    1. Hi Cathy, I agree they can easily be a complete meal.

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  15. I love getting inspired by restaurant food! And that pesto vinaigrette sounds amazing. I might have to go back and make the salmon version. Such a great way to eat your veggies!

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    1. Hi Joanne, I know thats half the fun of going out,right just to try and re-create the recipe

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  16. This looks great..and I never had a pesto vinaigrette recipe..Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, the pesto vinaigrette really made the salad.

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  17. Wow, this salad is fabulous! I really love the presentation and that combination of ingredients as well as flavors.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  18. I love the idea of a pesto vinaigrette! Sounds so flavorful and refreshing. I grow a ton of basil in the summer, can't wait to use it to make this dressing!

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    1. Hi Natalie, sounds like you have quite a green thumb, I'm envious!

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  19. This looks incredible...love the pretty presentation! Yum!

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    1. Thanks Joyti, appreciate you stopping by.

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  20. Oh my goodness this looks totally amazing. I LOVE a chopped salad and this one looks so delicious!

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    1. Hi Karen, I had fun chopping all the veggies. Thanks for stopping by.

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  21. Fresh pesto tastes wonderful and must have gone perfectly well with this chopped salad. I love the presentation and the number of different ingredients on the plate.

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    1. Thanks Tina, the pesto did work very well with this salad. The next day I made another batch of this dressing and drizzled it over some veggies. Very good.

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  22. Yum! This salad looks so pretty, and I love the way you showed all the layers!!

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    1. Thanks Sweetphi, there was a lot of chopping involved, but as strange as it sounds I love to chop.

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  23. This looks great

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  24. This is my idea of a perfect meal! I LOVE chopped salads!

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    1. Thanks Marie for stopping by, appreciate the comment!

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