Adding some different fruits to a salad offers a variance of flavours, colours and textures to increase its appeal. The options and combinations are nearly limitless but here I went for sweetness with strawberries and pears alongside creaminess with avocado, cashew nuts and a simple vegan Caesar dressing. Altogether they create a filling and nutrient dense salad bursting with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Avocados (technically a fruit) are soft and buttery, strawberries are lush and sweet and pears are crisp and light. I soaked the pears and the chicken in fresh Meyer lemon juice- it keeps the pears fresh and prevents them from discolouring and it adds a bit of extra flavour to the chicken while its acidic component helps keep it tender.Baby kale are just kale leaves that were picked before they fully matured. They are softer and more delicate and I find their flavour to be a bit more mellow. The one disadvantage is that they do not store as well as regular kale once the dressing is on. Whereas regular kale can still be robust in a salad the next day, enabling leftovers, baby kale will wilt too much. Thus it is best to not add the dressing to it all if it is not going to be eaten all at once.
Spring is an especially great time to load up on greens at least a few times a week. They help our bodies with its natural cleansing process and greatly increase the nutritional content of any meal they are added to. Grilled chicken is a great source of lean protein which goes well in salads like this. Pork, prawns or salmon would also work nicely as could smoked tofu or spiced chickpeas for a vegetarian option.I used some caesar salad dressing this time but a balsamic or champagne vinaigrette could be equally nice and lighter options.
- 12 cups baby kale
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced (1 pint)
- 1 cup cashews
- 2½ Meyer lemons, juiced (juice from 1½ is for marinating the chicken, juice from the other 1 is for the pears)
- 2 pears, cored and sliced thinly (place the slices straight into the lemon juice so they keep fresh and crisp and don't start to become discoloured)
- 2 avocados, sliced
- ⅓ cup caesar dressing
- Optional: a few leaves of fresh basil or mint, thinly sliced
- Start by placing the chicken in a bag with lemon juice from 1½ of the Meyer lemons along with a few dashes each of salt and pepper. Place aside for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Preheat the BBQ.
- While the chicken is marinating, start washing and preparing the other ingredients and then set them aside.
- Once the chicken is ready and the grill is preheated, turn the heat to medium and place the chicken on the grill, cooking for around 7 minutes per side, until the thickest piece reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F and there is no pink left.
- Set the chicken aside to cool for a couple minutes and place the kale into a large bowl. Add in the dressing and toss until well combined. Add in the strawberries, cashews, pears and avocado and toss lightly.
- Once the chicken is cooled enough to touch, slice each pieces into strips. Either plate the salad and place the chicken on top or add the chicken in and serve it family style.