Chicken Goat cheese and cherry salad
Why this recipe works: this salad boasts an array of complementary flavors and textures: from sweet cherries to tangy goat cheese, crisp pecans to tender mesclun. We use the brown then simmer method for cooking the chicken breasts, which results in flavorful meat that’s also tender and moist. Mesclun a colorful mix of baby greens and lettuce is our choice for this salads base, but baby spinach is a fine substitute if mesclun isn’t available. Bittersweet orange marmalade, woodsy sherry vinegar, and savory shallot make for a unique vinaigrette that promotes harmony among the salad’s various flavors. The sweet, caramel notes of pecans provide an especially nice finishing flourish, but if you prefer walnuts, they can be used instead.
Chicken, goat cheese, and cherry salad with toasted pecans
Ingredients: serve 4
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts about ¾ pound) salt and pepper
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup water
2 ½ tablespoons orange marmalade
2 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
12 ounces cherries, pitted and halved
1 (5 ounce) bag mesclun greens
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- In medium nonstick skillet, toast pecans over medium high heat until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate, set aside, and wipe out skillet. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now empty skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken until browned, about 3 minutes. Flip chicken, then stir in water and 1 tablespoon marmalade. Simmer, covered, over medium heat until chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to cutting board.
- In large bowl, combine remaining marmalade, vinegar, and shallot. Slowly whisk in remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper. In small bowl, toss cherries with 1 tablespoons dressing.
- Add mesclun to dressing, toss to combine, and divide among individual plates. Top with cherries, pecans, and goat cheese. Slice chicken crosswise and arrange on top of salad. Serve.
Quick prep tip pitting cherries
For neater cherry pitting, place a large bowl of water in the sink. Add the cherries and then pit them at the bottom of the bowl. The pits float to the surface for easy removal, the cherries are rinsed in the process, and your hands( and the kitchen) aren’t bright red from the juice.
Smart shopping mesclun
Often labeled “spring mix” or “salad mix” mesclun is an amalgam of various small, young salad greens. Mixes vary, but arugula, dandelion, frisse, mizuma, radicchio, oak leaf, mache, and sorrel are commonly included. Chose mesclun with crisp leaves and no signs of wilting.