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Warm Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Pecans and Bacon

During a chat I was having with a reader, she was proclaiming her love of fruit and ... sadly commented how much she'd been missing it. I responded, "You don't need to give up fruit! Berries are awesome!" She was also commenting how much she felt like she was starving herself. My first reaction was, "You're doing it wrong!"

Many people seem focused on the diet mentality, which tends to mean they somehow feel they should starve themselves. There seems to be a deeply instilled sense of tiny taunting portions and a continued restriction of fats. NO no no no no ...

I really don't look at this as a "diet" ... by any stretch of the imagination. This way of eating, short of some fine tuning for various different body types, personalities, metabolisms, etc., is (in my humble opinion) simply the best possible way to eat! You don't need to restrict yourself with 3 leaves of spinach and a scant portion of skinless chicken breast. In my own personal life, I have a set of big stainless steel bowls. It's not uncommon for me to fill one of the bigger bowls with lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, olive oil, bacon, bacon fat, cooked zucchini, mushrooms, capers, basil, etc. A BIG bowl of warm salad ... just brimming with "awesome".

I reached into my mind and pulled this out for her to wrap her head around. I suggested she take a large salad bowl and make a massive filling salad for 2 ... and eat the whole thing herself! I suggested berries, chicken, pecans, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. I really wanted her to feel a sense of relief, that this way of eating no longer requires miniscule portions and a starving mindset. This is a wonderful, full, healthy and endlessly interesting way to eat.

TRY IT! It's a good 'un!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 679.275kcal
Author: DJ Foodie

Ingredients

  • 4 cups baby spinach washed, dried and stems removed
  • 16 leaves fresh basil hand torn
  • 1 each sweet red onion very thinly sliced
  • 1 pint strawberries washed, stems removed and quartered
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves toasted and very coursely chopped
  • 1/2 cup real bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (reggiano) cheese grated
  • 4 each boneless chicken breasts sliced into strips (or equivalent thigh meat - skin preferred, but optional)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In the following order, add the following ingredients to a large salad bowl: Spinach, basil, red onions and strawberries. (Note: I love good fresh onions, sliced thin. If you don't like them, leave them out, or add the onions to the chicken in a few steps, which will cook out that "raw" flavor.)
  • Season the strawberries with a bit of salt and pepper. The salt will cause them to start "bleeding" strawberry juice, which will drip down the ingredients in the salad.
  • Add your pecans, bacon bits and parmesan cheese to the top of the strawberries and set the bowl aside.
  • Pre-heat a large sauté pan over high heat.
  • Season your chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2 tbsp of oil to the hot pan. When it begins to ripple, add your sliced chicken. Spread the chicken around the base of the pan, so it's a thin even layer covering the bottom. Let it just "sit there" in the pan, so that the surface touching the bottom of the pan will caramelize and get a nice golden crust.
  • Once a nice crust develops, toss the chicken in the pan. Continue sautéing it, until it is cooked through.
  • Add the rest of the oil and balsamic vinegar to the hot pan with the chicken. This act, called "deglazing" is done to pick up any little browned chicken flavor bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan. It's just a quick 10 seconds. With a wooden spoon, scrape anything off the bottom of the pan into the hot liquid.
  • Pour the entire contents of the pan into one edge of the salad bowl (not directly on the cheese, as it might melt it).
  • With two wooden spoons, toss the salad in the bowl. The salad will wilt a little bit and very very slightly cook, because of the heat and the salt added earlier on.
  • Divide between 4 large plates and enjoy your large, sweet, fruity salad!

Nutrition

Serving: 4g | Calories: 679.275kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.2025g | Protein: 45.35g | Fat: 47.465g | Fiber: 3.9g