Arugula Salad with Chicken and Pear-Blueberry Dressing

I’ve become a big fan of eating local, so it’s always a pleasure when I can put together a meal that’s made almost exclusively of local ingredients.  Yesterday, I made a delicious salad with all but three ingredients that came from Georgia (olive oil, shallots, and an apple).  Of the remaining ingredients, everything except the chicken (which came from Georgia’s Springer Mountain Farms) came from my local farmer, Neil Taylor.  

As I know I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the ChefMD (John LaPuma). When I received a beautiful bunch of arugla in my vegetable box this week, I went to the ChefMD’s website to look for ideas.  After a search, I settled on a recipe for arugula salad with a mango-shallot dressing. One of the things that caught my eye was the dressing was made from reduced mango puree that was simmered with minced shallots. I loved the idea of using fresh juice (or puree in this case) as the base for dressing. That said, I didn’t have mangos or mango puree. But I did have Neil Taylor’s wonderful pear-blueberry juice. That gave me the idea of adding an apple to my salad, since I thought it would go nicely with the pear-infused juice. And since I had local chicken in the fridge I used that as my protein source.

To start, I brined a skinless, boneless chicken breast. For the brining mixture, I combined in a small bowl:

  • 1 Tbsp. salt (I used picking salt since it doesn’t have additives and dissolves quickly)
  • 2 cups water

Stir until the salt dissoves, then add:

  • 1 6-ounce chicken breast (of course you can brine more if you like – I made the salad for myself)

Keep in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Remove, pat dry, then sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Spray or lightly coat a heavy-bottomed skillet with olive oil, then heat over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the chicken breast to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes without moving to allow the chicken to sear and brown. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 5 minutes or so (depending on the thickness) until an instant read thermometer registers 140 degrees. Remove from heat and set aside (the temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees after removing from the heat). If you’re not sure about the source of your chicken you may want to cook it until it hits 150-degrees to be sure that you’ve killed any contaminants.

In the meantime, while the chicken is brining prepare the dressing. In a small saucepan combine:

  • 1/2 cup fresh juice (I used Neil Taylor’s pear/blueberry juice, but feel free to use any fresh juice that sounds good)
  • 1 medium shallot minced (about 1/4 cup)

Bring the juice to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture has thickened and reduced to about 1/4 cup or so.

To assemble your salad combine on a plate or in a large bowl:

  • arugula
  • broccoli, cut into small florets
  • cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • chopped carrots
  • steamed beets, sliced (I used red and yellow beets)
  • apple, peeled cored and diced
  • chicken, diced
  • prepared (cooled) dressing
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