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Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

This is another recipe I made earlier in the spring and waited to post until the transition from summer to fall because, while salads are typical summer fare, this one incorporates fall flavors like cranberries, apples, and spiced pecans.

If you want to know how this salad tastes, just read the title.  And imagine all those things together on a plate.  There is a lot going on here and you get such a wonderful symphony of flavors and textures with each bite–salty from the nuts & cheese, sweet & tart from the apples & vinaigrette, crisp lettuce & onions, savory & tender chicken, crunchy spiced pecans.  It’s a glorious thing!

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3-4 medium)
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8-10 cups)
8 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped or sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup spiced pecans, store-bought or following the simple recipe below

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the chicken and cook until it is nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over, add the water, and cover the skillet. Cook the chicken, letting it poach, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool slightly before carving.

Toss the lettuce, cheese, apple, pecans, onion and dried cranberries together. Divide the salad among the serving plates. Slice the chicken on a diagonal and arrange over the salad. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Quick Spiced Pecans:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon sugar

Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the spices and then the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color deepens slightly and they are lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them cool completely before tossing with the salad.

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette:
*Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing

1/4 cup cranberry juice or water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup red wine or raspberry vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the cranberry juice (or water) and cranberries in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute until hot. Process the hot cranberry mixture, vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender until the shallot and garlic are finely chopped. With the blender running, add the oil and continue to blend until the dressing is smooth and well-combined. Thin the dressing, if needed, with additional cranberry juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

7 responses »

  1. Love the cranberry dressing and the spiced pecans! If I had some cranberries, I’d make this for today’s lunch! Thanks!

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  2. MMMM…love the spiced pecans! and you are right….such great fall flavors going on here!

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  3. All the flavors in this salad look and sound delish! The cranberry vinaigrette is something I can’t wait to try. Definitely nice fall flavors going on here :)

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  4. Mmmmmm!! It makes me want to be more of a salad person, that’s for sure. I love eating them–but for some reason I almost never make them at home!

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  5. Looks delicious Veronica – I never think of dried cranberries until this time of year too – but really, that salad would be good any time of year. :D

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  6. wonderful… you know the funny thing? when I saw the list of ingredients for the vinaigrette I though “oh my, sooo complicated!” :) and I am the one spending days making bread. you see, the perception of time and effort varies from person to person. really lovely salad.

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  7. Pingback: Cranberry Crumb Bars | Veronica's Cornucopia

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