Blackberry Chicken Salad

The other day Brian came home with the most delicious little carton of blackberries. They were plump, sweet, tart, and all around delectable and they got me thinking about one of my favorite dinner salads; Blackberry Chicken Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette. I generally don’t like making salads because I find them really dull to create. Just chop and toss and everything look the same as before you started. I do however love eating salads so when ever I come across a unique one a try to give it a shot before eschewing it for a more magical baking recipe (speaking of which, a magical muffin recipe is to arrive shortly).

This recipe happens to be one of those special ones that caught my eye. I first happened upon it in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine last spring. I believe it won a prize for best salad in their annual recipe contest and its creator received a $5,000 prize for her efforts.  Any salad worth several grand has to be good so I made it later that week and have since made it at least half a dozen times. 

Unlike most salads with meat, the chicken in this dish is marinated vaulting it high above its salt and pepper grilled poultry peers. In a pinch you can use already cooked chicken but the marinade for this dish is a perfect complement to the acidity of the dressing, so only substitute if you are hundreds miles from the nearest grocery or have hypoglycemia induced anger.

Whether you are ravenous or peckish this is the perfect summer meal; light yet satisfying, quick, tasty and it takes advantage of seasonal produce. Buy some blushing berries tonight and have this for dinner! I promise your tummy will thank you. 

Serves 4

Marinade

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh

lime

juice

1/4 cup fresh

lemon

juice

1Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. chopped fresh

basil

¾ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb.)

Dressing

1 cup fresh blackberries

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. Dijon-style

mustard

1/4 tsp. dried

oregano

, crushed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salad

1 cup Blackberries

1  8-oz. pkg. Mediterranean mixed salad greens

2 medium pears, cored and thinly sliced

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (3 oz.)

In small bowl stir together orange, lime, and lemon juices, 1 tablespoon oil, basil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken in resealable plastic bag; and pour juice

mixture

over chicken; seal bag. Refrigerate 1 to 4 hours, turning bag occasionally.

For dressing, in blender

combine

1 cup of the blackberries, vinegar, sugar, mustard, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and blend until smooth. With blender running, slowly add 1/2 cup oil in a thin steady stream until well combined. Transfer to serving container. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Drain chicken, discarding marinade.

 For charcoal grill

, place chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until done (170 degrees F.), turning once. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken to grill rack. Cover and grill as above.)

Slice chicken and toss together with greens, remaining blackberries, pears and feta. Drizzle with blackberry vinaigrette and serve with toasted ciabatta.  

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