This salad is a winning combination of perfectly roasted chicken breast, sweet dried cranberries, crisp and tart apple slices, and creamy feta cheese; all topped with crunchy pepitas and cilantro lime dressing. This is a salad that didn’t come to play.
Every year for the past five years, we hit mid-December, and I start thinking “what if I did a sugar-free January?” And four of the five, the thought basically leaves my head as quickly as it enters. Last year, 2020, I actually started it, though. And I made it until January 10th before a quick weekend trip to visit my mom derailed me.
I still blame the fact that she only keeps decaf coffee in her house for this though. If she didn’t, I could have resisted the urge to go to Dunkin Donuts to get coffee, which inevitably led to a donut as well, which then led to “I’ve already eaten a donut, so why NOT get dessert after dinner” and then it was just all downhill from there.
This year, I again thought about going sugar free but being a new blogger, I just didn’t think it would work with my lifestyle now (read: I taste test a lot of brownies – for WORK) and so I decided to eat salads every day for lunch. I’m working from home because of the pandemic, and so I have a little more food freedom, and I thought this would be an easy get. Unfortunately, life clearly gets in the way for all of us, and I’m no exception. I made approximately two salads in the month of January.
But lucky you, because this was one of them, and it’s a showstopper for sure. I’ve been so excited to share it!
A Breakdown of the Chicken Apple and Feta Salad
I used a spring mix for the greens, but this would work with almost any kind of greens.
I pan sauteed chicken breast for this, but you could just as easily use a rotisserie chicken breast, and it would still be epic (and a lot quicker).
Don’t skimp on the dried cranberries here – the sweetness they provide is a perfect foil for the other ingredients.
I used a Honey Crisp apple because it’s what I had on hand, but any tart crisp apple will work here. Gala would be amazing.
If you can, use the feta that comes in brine. It’s more expensive, but the difference in taste and quality is just extraordinary. It also lasts FOREVER in the fridge, so you will definitely be able to use it up before it goes bad – probably on more salads.
The little crunch provided by the pepitas is crucial. If that’s not something you have access to, you could chop up some pistachios, or use sunflower seeds. You just want them to be fairly small.
You could make your own dressing, but why bother? Brianna’s dressings are fantastic, and this creamy cilantro lime is SO GOOD. I know it doesn’t seem like it would go with the rest of the ingredients in the salad, but honestly, I think the dressing is what makes it.
Chicken Apple and Feta Salad
- 3 cups of spring mix or greens of your choice
- 1 cup cooked chicken (either pan saute a chicken breast, or use rotisserie chicken)
- 1 apple (honey crisp or gala) sliced or diced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup feta, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons pepitas (or sunflower seeds)
- Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- If you are cooking the chicken yourself: take 1 large chicken breast, trim the fat away, and season on both sides with salt and pepper. If the breast is very large, cut it in half following these directions
- If using a rotisserie chicken, just shred the chicken breast to your liking.
- In a large bowl add the greens and a tablespoon of the dressing and toss to coat.
- In a second bowl, add the toppings - chicken, cranberries, apples, and feta, and add another tablespoon of dressing and toss to coat.*
- Top the dressed greens with the dressed toppings, sprinkle with pepitas and enjoy!
*Yes, this method dirties two bowls instead of one. If you top the greens with all the other ingredients and then add the dressing and then toss it all together at once, the toppings will all fall to the bottom of the bowl, and you'll have an incredibly uneven salad. Toss the greens and toppings separately however, and they merge much more easily.
Did you make this recipe?