Filling, fresh, creamy, crisp… that’s what dreamy salads are made of! This strawberry walnut salad recipe is packed with flavor and feel-good nutritious ingredients, which makes it a great choice for an entree salad. As an added plus, this recipe features unique and easy balsamic strawberry dressing you can make at home in minutes!
Why I Love This Strawberry Chicken Salad Recipe
Isn’t it great when a salad is actually filling and fun to eat? (You know, instead of being a sad pile of lettuce.) This strawberry walnut chicken salad recipe is just that – super satisfying, flavorful, and exciting to look at. It combines flavors, textures, and colors to make each bite enticing. A little sweetness from strawberries, tartness from balsamic vinegar, creaminess from goat cheese, savory notes from chicken, and crunchy bite of the greens and walnuts all come together to make this dish balanced.
Okay, I feel like I’ve made my point – this salad tastes good, but it’s also good for you too!
Aside from being nature’s candy, berries also pack a nutritional punch! Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, which helps with immune and skin health. Just one cup of sliced strawberries can provide about 150% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Worried that strawberries are high in sugar? Worry not! Although strawberries are sweet and do contain natural sugars, they’re also a great source of fiber, which slows down digestion and helps lessen blood sugar spikes after eating.
Strawberries are a good source of a lesser-known nutrient called manganese that plays a role in metabolizing nutrients, helping our immune system, and protecting our cells from damage.
All of these factors, along with other beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants, are some of the reasons why strawberries have been shown to improve health! Specifically, strawberries have been linked to better heart health, reducing inflammation, and cancer prevention. (Pretty cool, if you ask me!)
You may have heard that walnuts are a healthy source of fat, but why is that?
Walnuts contain multiple types of fat, but a somewhat high percentage of this fat comes from an omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. (Say what?? Just in case you need a quick refresher, fatty acids are the building blocks of fat molecules and come in a variety of configurations. One of these configurations is called omega-3. There are also different subtypes of omega-3’s, one of which is called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).)
Walnuts are one of the only nuts that contain omega-3 ALA, which helps our bodies reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels.
How to Make Chicken Quickly on the Stovetop
Grilled, baked, and roasted chicken all work great on salads, but I almost always make mine on the stovetop. This method quick, easy to remember, and virtually foolproof.
- Pound boneless chicken breasts flat or (even better) butterfly them. This will ensure that your chicken cooks evenly. Season the chicken breasts on both sides.
- Find a frying pan with a lid. (The lid is important!) Heat over med-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. (I use olive oil, but avocado oil, canola oil, or coconut oil also work and are less prone to smoking.)
- Add chicken to the pan and sear for about 3 minutes on each side. You’ll know that it’s time to flip when your chicken is golden brown and is no longer sticking to the pan.
- After searing on each side, remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Set a timer for 10 minutes and don’t touch it. (I mean it!) After 10 minutes, remove the lid and temp your chicken. The temperature should read 165F. This should give you perfectly cooked chicken! If you notice your chicken is still pink or not up to temp, heat the pan over med-low heat with the lid on and check the temp until it is ready.
How to Make Dressing in a Blender
You may have dried making a homemade salad dressing in a bowl or a shaker cup, but if you’ve never made a blender dressing, you’re in for a treat!
But first, a quick science lesson. (I promise it’s worth it.) Most salad dressings are made by creating an emulsion (i.e. a combination of liquids that normally wouldn’t mix, like oil and vinegar). When you simply mix oil and vinegar together in a bowl or jar, they quickly separate, but when you shake them vigorously, they stay together a bit longer. Some salad dressings also contain extra ingredients like eggs that help their emulsions stay more stable.
For the salad dressing in this strawberry walnut salad recipe, we use the blender to help emulsify our mixture. The blender pulverizes the strawberries, but it also evenly distributes the oil and vinegar to create a dressing with some serious body. I’ll admit, it looks a little bit like a smoothie, but I promise it doesn’t taste like one!
- Make it vegan – Swap goat cheese with vegan feta and swap chicken for chickpeas, grilled marinated tofu, or Chick’n.
- Make it vegetarian – Omit the chicken or substitute with chickpeas, grilled marinated tofu, or Chick’n.
- Make it dairy-free – Omit the goat cheese and add avocado slices for some creaminess.
- Make it sweeter – Add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the dressing.
- Make it with a different dressing – Any sweet or balsamic vinaigrette would taste awesome!
- Make it with a different type of fruit – This salad would taste lovely with so many types of fruit. Blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries would work well in both the dressing and as ingredients. You could also try sliced apples, pears, or peaches in place of the strawberry slices. Avocados are technically fruits, so feel free to add them in as well 😉
- Make it with more vegetables – Sliced red onions, sprouts, or more greens can help you add some extra veg to this recipe
- Make it more filling – Add 1 cup of quinoa
Strawberry Walnut Salad with Chicken
- frying pan with lid
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 16 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts raw, sliced or pounded thinly
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 8 cups spring mix
- 1/3 cup raw walnuts chopped
- 1 cup strawberries sliced
- 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbled
Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup strawberries sliced
- 1 tsp pepper
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to coat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then add to the pan. Sear on each side for about 3 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and no longer sticking to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid, and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Prepare the dressing by adding 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 cup of sliced strawberries, and 1 tsp pepper to a small blender cup. (A full-sized blender or food processor is also fine!) Blend until smooth.
- Layer spring mix, walnuts, strawberries, and goat cheese in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with enough dressing to coat evenly, mix, and distribute on 4 plates.
- Add 1/4 of the chicken to each plate and enjoy!