Monday, August 5, 2013

Chicken, sweet potato, and pecan salad

By now, I think I've made it pretty clear that I don't actually hate salads.  As it turns out, I actually love them, especially the mile-long salad bars at restaurants.  (I'm looking at you, Hello Bistro and Eat 'n Park.)

Make-your-own salad bars are totally my jam these days.  There's always something that appeals to me, regardless of my mood and appetite, like fresh peppers and mushrooms, avocados, a bajillion varieties of cheese, and so.many.crunchy.things.  It's enough to make you question the presence of any lettuce in your salad at all!  (I've done it, so there will be no judgement if you do the same.)

But, a produce buffet my kitchen is not.  Unless I plan ahead and raid the bulk bins at the grocery store (they are the best for just the right amount of various toppings, FYI!), a salad will most likely consist of spinach, chicken, and dressing.  Any produce in our fridge is likely there because it's meant for another recipe, something Matt complains about again and again, but that's neither here nor there.

As delicious as those salad bars can be, they are a bit overwhelming.  I invariably end up with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bowl of produce and don't get the chance to appreciate any one ingredient.

I recently read a magazine article that suggested what I'd been thinking all along -- keep salad toppings to 4 or less.  A simple vinaigrette will tie everything together and still let the elements shine!  In other words, K.I.S.S.

Like this so-easy-it's-almost-too-easy chicken, sweet potato, and pecan salad!

This is one of those magical meals that hits every major flavor and texture note and will satisfy the heck out of ya.  Crisp kale and spinach.  Chewy roasted sweet potato half moons (how fun are those shapes?!).  Tender chicken, sliced just so to keep 'em bite size.  Whole pecans for crunch and decadence.

All drizzled with the simplest dressing made using ingredients that you already have in your kitchen.  Yes, even you, Ms. I-go-to-the-grocery-store-once-a-month-only-to-buy-Kraft-macaroni-and-cheese-and-smile-fries.

It even kept me from doing the after dinner "I don't know what I want, but I'm just looking" pantry inspection.  Huge deal!

And, don't tell the men and children, but this is about as healthy a salad as you could ever build.  So many super foods, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and good-for-you fats. 

In other words, the ice cream you know you'll have for dessert is totally canceled out.

Two years ago: Pork chops with mushrooms & shallots; Chipotle steak salad with homemade dressing
Three years ago: Slow cooker "chicken" pork chops

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Pecan Salad
-serves 2

1 large sweet potato, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch half moons
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Ground black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups torn kale
1/3 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil.  Arrange in a single layer, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Briefly, remove baking sheet from oven.  Toss sweet potatoes and make room for chicken breasts.  Return to oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing by whisking together mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and minced garlic in a small bowl; set aside.  Remove chicken and potatoes from oven and allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes.  On a cutting board, slice chicken into thin strips.  Divide spinach and kale between two plates.  Top each with half of the potatoes, half of the chicken, and half of the pecans.  Finish with dressing and enjoy immediately.

1 comment:

  1. tracy.rose@healthline.comAugust 5, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Hi Katy,

    Healthline is interested in contributing a guest post to We would be open to contributing any blog that would be of interest to your readers. Healthline bloggers have been featured on a variety of sites including:

    Washington Times:
    Natural News:

    Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Warm Regards,