The strawberry season is in full swing here in Massachusetts and my family and I have been enjoying its bounty. We are blessed to live within a mile of two “pick you own” strawberry fields and have several other farm stands nearby that are bursting with fresh strawberries this time of year. I always make a point of trying at least one new recipe each year using fresh strawberries, and normally this includes some type of dessert, but strawberries are delicious in salads too, as I discovered when I made Strawberry Chicken Pecan Salad. What makes this salad so exceptional is that it pairs fresh strawberries with other ingredients that highlight its flavor perfectly. Maple syrup intensifies the berry flavor, balsamic vinegar adds a pleasant tartness, and salty feta helps to balance some of the sweetness. The result is a salad where the essence of fresh strawberries really shines through.
Fresh, local strawberries hold a special place in my heart, not only because they are one of the most delicious treats on earth but because for me, the true beginning of summer is marked not by Memorial Day, but by the arrival of strawberry season. It’s when the weather has warmed up just enough to ripen the berries, when the days are getting progressively longer as the summer solstice approaches, and when feelings of anticipation fill the air with the knowledge that an entire summer lay ahead.
The strawberries I used in this salad were so fresh and beautiful that I decided not to cut them or trim away the stems. Instead I left them whole to show each strawberry’s beautiful detail and contrast of colors. The extra effort required to cut away the stems while I was eating the salad gave me more time to savor each bite! You can use whatever type of cooked chicken in this recipe that’s convenient for you. If you need to make this salad quickly, meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken will work just fine, but if you have time to roast up some chicken breasts that’s preferable. Check out my post for Basic Roasted Chicken Breasts. This is my standard way of cooking chicken for SO many recipes and it’s what I used in this salad.
Strawberry Chicken Pecan Salad with Feta Cheese and Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette – a salad with a magical combination of flavors and textures, and the ultimate salad for strawberry season!
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut into 1 to 2-inchpieces
- 1 lb./4 cups of cooked chicken, shredded or cut into 1 inch pieces
- 12 ounces/3 cups fresh strawberries
- 4 ounces/1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup/2 ounces pecan halves, toasted
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Put the romaine lettuce pieces in a large bowl and add the chicken, strawberries, feta cheese, and pecan halves.
- Whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
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