Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A dream dish realized: Spinach Salad with Chicken, Strawberries, Blue Cheese and Almonds

A dream dish: One that’s fresh, healthy, easy to make and suitable for both weeknights or a casual dinner party.
   The dream realized: Spinach Salad with Chicken, Strawberries, Blue Cheese and Almonds (click for the recipe) from Fine Cooking magazine.
   I’m still impressed with how well this recipe worked. It looks gorgeous and it tasted fantastic -- the fresh seasonal flavours are allowed to burst through and speak for themselves.
   The red wine vinegar beautifully amplifies the taste of the strawberries, and the toasted almonds and blue cheese are perfect companions. It makes a great salad for a backyard barbecue, or, with some crusty bread on the side, a lovely spring or summer meal.
   It took me, working alone without hurrying, about half an hour to make.
   Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves are seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked in a skillet until just cooked through (this took me about 14 minutes total, not the 10 listed in the recipe). The chicken is transferred to a cutting board and left to rest.
   While the chicken cooks, sliced almonds are toasted in a skillet, and transferred to a plate to cool.
   Olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, minced shallot, salt and pepper are whisked together to create a dressing.
   In a large bowl, fresh baby spinach, strawberries, blue cheese and the almonds are tossed with enough of the dressing to coat (I found this took about ¾ of the available dressing).
   The chicken is sliced. The salad is arranged on a plate or plates, and the sliced chicken arranged on top. The remaining dressing is drizzled on top if desired.

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