Thursday, July 24, 2014

Toasted Coconut and Strawberry Chicken Salad

Salad, like spaghetti, is awesome for several reasons: 1.) It tastes good.  2.) You can make it different each time and it still tastes great.  3.)  It's easy to customize to your own personal tastes.  4.) Quick and easy meal.

This is one of our favorite meals to eat when it's hot outside.  It's so good that my kiddo will gobble it right up and ask for seconds, and my meat-eating man doesn't complain that it's and salad-like.

This is also one of the easiest meals ever.  You can prep ahead of time so that all you have left to do is cook the chicken and make your salad.

Step 1: Toast some almonds.
I used a 4 oz bag of sliced almonds.  Spread them on a cookie sheet.  Set the oven to broil and place the sheet of almonds on the rack in the middle of the oven.  Don't walk away because your almonds can go from toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds.  You may also want a long wooden spoon you can use to stir the almonds to help them toast more evenly.

Pull your almonds out at your desired toastiness.  I think for my oven this only took about 4 minutes.

Step Two: Toast some coconut flake.
I used a 7 oz bag for this and did it the exact same way as the almonds.  You will definitely want to stir the coconut because it will burn fast and toast really unevenly if you don't.

Pull your coconut out of the oven when you're ready.  Do be aware that this toasts up much quicker than the almonds.  If you can help it, don't leave the kitchen.  And stir, stir, stir.  If some bits do get more toasty than you would like, just pick them out.

Step Three: Slice some strawberries.
To feed 4 people, I usually slice up 1 quart.  But if you really love strawberries like we do, feel free to slice up even more.  

Step Four: Cut up your lettuce.
Unless you bought bagged, which is totally OK if you do.  My favorite to use is organic baby spinach, but this week I bought romaine to save a little money.  If you do have to cut your own lettuce, give it a really good wash and let it drain well before serving.  When I don't use the organic baby spinach, I try to cut up 1-2 heads of romaine.

Step Five: Cook some chicken.
However much you want.  Whichever method you prefer.  For 4 people, I would cook at least 3 breasts.  My favorite method is to grill the chicken, but if I'm out of charcoal or energy, then I might slice it up thin and give it a quick pan saute with some herbs or just salt and pepper.

Step Six:  Throw it together and enjoy!
You can toss it all together ahead of time or let each person make their own individual salad.  

Now, if you're wondering about the dressing...this is the dressing of choice.  In fact, this dressing is the reason that I made this salad.  I mean, don't get me wrong, the salad is delicious...but, it's still kind of an excuse to use this dressing.

I haven't played around with trying to imitate this dressing and honestly I don't plan to.  It's $3.12 at Wal-Mart.  And it's so good and perfect that I'm happy with buying it.

So that's it.  This makes a perfect weeknight meal or maybe a Sunday afternoon meal when you don't feel like putting forth too much effort.  It tastes as delicious as it sounds and as wonderful as it looks.  Play around with it, customize it however, and make it your own.  

I don't usually cook by recipes, so measurements here are just approximations.

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

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