When the weather turns hot, I love just having a salad for dinner. Used to be that I'd make one for myself and my husband and something else for the kids, but now that everybody's so easygoing (well. at least about dinner) I've been making main course salads more and more. Generally I stick to a pretty simple balsamic vinaigrette dressing out of habit, but habits can get boring and then some people don't want just a salad for dinner anymore. So I've been trying out new dressings to keep things interesting and happily this creamy dijon vinaigrette was a real crowd pleaser! In fact, the whole salad was met with rave reviews!
When we were little girls, we often slept at our grandparents house on Saturday nights and my grammie would make our favorite dinner, which back then was salad with her special dressing, baby lamb chops, mashed potatoes and string beans. The three of us got to "help" her in the kitchen, (though it probably took her twice as long to get things ready) and one of things we fought over, was who would get the chance to mix together her weekly supply of salad dressing. Now Grammie was not a very adventurous cook, so this mixture consisted of nothing more than mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup and a bit of red horseradish, but we all loved it and would eat her salads happily, even though we often rejected them at home. Though there's no sour cream, ketchup or horseradish in sight, this dressing brings back such happy special memories and seeing a jar of it in the fridge, makes me think of Grammie. plus it's delicious and easy to make!
What really pulls this salad together is the fact that the chicken breasts are also marinated in a Dijon mustard based vinaigrette. It's also easy to make and really infuses the chicken with great flavor. Even if you're not a mustard lover (like me) I guarantee that you'll love what it does to the chicken.
While the chicken is grilling, you can put all the rest of the elements of the salad together. I chose baby lettuces, shredded carrots, roasted pistachios, dried cranberries, scallions and grape tomatoes, but you easily substitute spinach for the lettuce, onion for the scallions, toasted almonds for the pistachios...you get the idea. It's one of those versatile dishes you can customize to whatever you like and have handy.
Once the chicken is ready, just slice it thinly, add it to the salad, top with some of the tangy, creamy vinaigrette and toss. Dinner is served! Easy, light and an amazing combination of tastes and textures. Just right for those warm summer nights!
Grilled Dijon Chicken with Baby Greens and Dijon Vinaigrette
This vinaigrette is so delicious--my husband loves to use it as a spread for sandwiches--you can easily double the recipe to keep it on hand--it's not as thick as regular mayo but works well as a sandwich spread.
Serves 5-7 people
Prep Time: At least 30-40 minutes for chicken to marinate, 20 minutes to cook chicken, put together salad and make dressing
For the Dijon Vinaigrette
2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (use the higher amount if you're a mustard lover)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Marinade
3 pounds (4-6) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons scallions, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
For the Salad
4-5 cups mixed baby lettuces (I used about 1 1/2 bags of Trader Joe's worth)
1 pint grape tomatoes
Shredded carrots---about 3/4 cup
1/3 cup roasted salted pistachio nuts (feel free to omit or substitute any nut you prefer)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2-3 scallions, roughly chopped
1. To make the Dijon Vinaigrette: Whisk together well until well blended, the mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Dressing lasts 1-2 weeks.
2. To make the marinade: In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the olive oil, parsley, scallions and mustard until well blended. Place the chicken in the bowl and coat with the mixture. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or covered overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat grill to high. Brush grates with a little olive oil and grill chicken till cooked through. Remove to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Then slice thinly on the diagonal and set aside.
4. To make the salad: Fill a large bowl with the baby lettuces, tomatoes, carrots, pistachios, cranberries and scallions. Add in the cooked chicken and some of the vinaigrette. Toss well, season with salt and pepper if necessary and serve.
Note: Vinaigrette and chicken adapted from The Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster. Salad is my own creation.