Strawberry Bruschetta & Grilled Chicken Salad

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for summertime. Lemonade, long dog walks, sunshine and ALL of the strawberries. I made the mistake of glancing at the 15 day forecast and it’s a little depressing. Pretty much no sunlight and lots of rain for at least the next 15 days. 😦 But that’s alright. That just means more flowers later!

I’m ready to start cooking like it’s summertime though, so I stocked up on strawberries and greens, which caused this a-maz-ing salad to come about. Seriously, I could eat this every night for the rest of ever and be totally content. It’s just that good!

Let’s talk about this Strawberry Bruschetta for a second…isn’t it beautiful?!?!?!
Strawberry Bruschetta

Bruschetta is traditionally made with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic. I subbed strawberries for the tomatoes and this sweet little bite was born. Strawberries pair so well with basil and their sweetness bounces off of the bite from the garlic perfectly. The olive oil merges with the juice from the berries to make a perfectly tart and sweet vinaigrette of sorts. Be sure to spoon lots of the juicy goodness into your salad!

I added some barley to this salad to help bulk it up and make it more filling. The barley is totally optional, but I really loved the texture of the chewy barley with the crisp greens and soft berries. You could substitute farro or quinoa for the barley, if you’d rather.

Strawberry Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Salad

This salad really comes together quickly and you can do most of it in advance, making it a great option for a dinner party or a quick weeknight meal. Personally, I wouldn’t want any of the ingredients hot on my salad. I cooked the barley and chicken in advance and let it cool totally before mixing it all in. The strawberry bruschetta needs at least an hour to macerate, so you want to do that in advance. And the chicken can really be cooked however you want. I tried grilling mine, ended up catching my stove on fire (oops!) then finished it in a skillet. Hence, grill marks only on one side. 😉

Strawberry Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Salad2.jpg

Strawberry Bruschetta & Grilled Chicken Salad



2 pounds chicken breast, cooked, cooled and sliced however you prefer
1 quart strawberries, tops removed and cut into small pieces
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (video demonstration below)
1/4 olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for later
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup barley, cooked to package directions and cooled
8 cups salad greens of your choice (I used a spring mix)

To make the strawberry bruschetta, combine strawberries, basil, olive oil, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for at least 1 hour and no more than 24 hours. (Optional, but recommended step: Before making this, combine the olive oil and garlic in a small pot or pan and heat over low heat until just at a simmer. This helps infuse the oil with the garlic flavor and removes the raw garlic flavor some.)

To assemble, toss 1/2 cup cooked barley with salad greens. Season with a tiny bit of salt and splash a little balsamic vinegar and toss again. Top with chicken and a large spoonful of strawberry bruschetta.

Serve!

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