I decided to make this my first post because this salad (minus the dressing) was my first real effort in eating paleo. I actually had this salad made for me every night when we first started Crossfit by my then-roommate Kirsten and I didn’t make it for myself until more than a year later. I don’t think that I will ever be able to make it quite as good as she did, but it comes pretty close.
Every time I make this salad it brings back so many memories for me of just starting Crossfit, waking up early and running through downtown Annapolis with Kirsten every morning before work, and just busting our asses in general to get into better shape. It also takes me back to when we were just two single, fresh out of college girls sharing a tiny apartment in downtown Annapolis, all of which now feel like very distant memories even though it was less than 2 years ago. Crazy how much changes in just a short amount of time.
Anyways, this salad is so easy and so delicious (especially back when it was made by someone else). We ate this salad so often, I actually bought one of those Topsy Turvy upside-down tomato planters. And a strawberry planer. And then an herb planter. None of those ever did actually get planted, but I have lugged them through 3 moves since then, and once spring finally (finally) hits in Maryland, I absolutely plan on using them. At least that’s what I keep telling TJ so he lets me keep the boxes in the closet by the front door..
I guess this could be thought of as more of a spring/summer salad, based on the ingredients, but I have made it multiple times in the dead of winter and it is a great change of pace from the more “wintery” type meals. There is also very limited cooking involved, since the only thing that is cooked is the chicken.
1lb chicken (I use the small tenders that are sold in grocery stores, but you could just as easily use breasts and slice them into tenders your self). The tenders usually have somewhere between 10-15 pieces of chicken in it, so it is perfect when cooking for 2.
1 bag of baby spinach.
2 tomatoes (I prefer Roma for this recipe, but really any kind will do), cut into bite size pieces.
8-10 strawberries, sliced.
1 avocado, pitted and diced into bite size pieces.
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped.
1/4 cup flax seeds. These can be omitted if you don’t have them laying around, we just always tended to have them so we threw them on top.
Tony’s Creole Seasoning. This can also be omitted or substituted, but Kirsten, having gone to Tulane, added it to just about everything she cooked and I never complained. I am not 100% sure that Tony’s is paleo so if you are trying to stay strict, err on the side of safety and just omit it. You can substitute a little cayenne pepper and the chicken will taste just as good.
1 tbsp. of Olive Oil (or coconut oil)
Marzetti Simply Dressed Balsamic Vinaigrette. This does contain sugar (I am unsure of how much) so you can substitute it with a simple oil and balsamic vinegar dressing if you wish to keep it strict.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper garlic powder, creole seasoning (or any variation thereof) on both sides of the chicken and place it into a pan that has been lightly coated with your oil. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, adjusting based on the size of your chicken of course. Once your chicken is almost cooked, pour a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar right onto each chicken strip so the flavor really cooks in. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to cool.
Then, all you have to do is load your plate up with the spinach, top it with all of your toppings, and drizzle it with the dressing of your choice. It is that simple! I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I always do!