Next Friday is the one-year anniversary of my very first blog post (note the cringe-worthy photos). Even though I didn't know much about blogging back then, I totally stand by that first recipe--the lemon curd is so delicious. It's amazing that this site, which is such a big part of my life now, didn't even exist just one year ago.
To celebrate, I made us a salad. If you don't think a salad is the proper way to celebrate a blogiversary, you're right--I don't think of salads as celebratory, either. I totally have plans for an over-the-top grain-free cake for next week, but thought I would balance things out by making this nutritious salad first.
My favorite part of this salad (other than the gorgeous hue of the Cara Cara oranges) is the creamy dreamy dressing. I'm pretty boring with dressings, and usually just make a simple balsamic vinaigrette, perhaps with a touch of honey or Dijon mustard if I'm feeling fancy. However, I do have a soft spot for rich, creamy dressings. I wondered if I could make a great creamy dressing without any dairy, so that people with allergies (or people doing a Whole30 or strict paleo) could eat it.
Luckily, the answer is yes! This dressing is delectably creamy thanks to the walnuts, perfectly sweet from just the oranges, and wonderfully savory thanks to the shallots. After I made it, I kept sneaking spoonful after spoonful as I made the rest of the salad. It's so good.
Even though I love the dressing plain, it's even better with some spring greens, pan-seared chicken, orange slices, and toasted walnuts. This salad is the perfect way to transition from winter to spring, and eat a bunch of healthy food while you're at it.
Yield: 2-3 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
For the creamy shallot dressing:
Juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons minced shallot (from about 1 small shallot)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar), or more to taste
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
For the salad:
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
4 ounces spring mix or your favorite salad greens
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired*
1-2 oranges, sliced and trimmed or peeled and segmented**
*To toast walnuts, toss them in a dry skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until slightly darker and fragrant.
**I used one regular orange and one Cara Cara orange, but we had some orange slices left over. To prepare the oranges as shown in the pictures, slice the orange crosswise into 1/4-inch thick wheels, then lay each wheel flat and make small cuts around the edge to trim off the peel and most of the pith, forming an octagon shape.
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a two-cup measure and process with an immersion blender until smooth (or puree in a food processor or regular blender). Taste and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar as desired.
To make the chicken, heat two tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and place the chicken pieces between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a meat tenderizer or rubber mallet to pound the breasts to an even thickness, making them as thin as you can.
When the ghee or oil is hot, add the chicken and cook, turning once, for 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness, until well-browned on both sides and no longer pink in the middle. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice into strips.
To assemble the salads, divide the greens between two or three plates, and top with walnuts, chicken, and orange slices. Drizzle on dressing to taste and serve.
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