The bright-red and slate-blue little jewels of the the summer season absolutely jump out at me each and every time I pass them in the produce isle of my local market.
They’re so very eye-catching and beautiful, these juicy vibrant strawberries, ruby-red raspberries and plump-round blueberries that sit perched oh-so proudly there in their little baskets and clear containers wonderfully enticing me to pluck them up and bring them home—I always give in to their beckoning.
Summer wouldn’t be summer without these gorgeous and sweet fruits; they’re what remind me of the time of year we’re in, and give fragrant and sweet flavor and bursting color to these warm and inviting days that make up this slightly-lazy time of year.
Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are those amazingly versatile little food-beings; they, of course, go splendidly into summer desserts that need a touch of fresh tang, and into cool and creamy smoothies and chilled drinks that pack raw nutrients and vitamins for cool refreshment.
But they also add so much contrast to a sweet-savory, chopped summer salad lush with crunchy green romaine, creamy and pungent blue cheese, crispy-salty bacon, sweet-nutty candied pecans, and crispy chicken—the perfect summertime lunch, drizzled with the perfectly sweet summertime red berry vinaigrette, to top it all off.
Summer on a plate!
The glistening little berries of the season are perfect for the picking right now, and for adding to refreshing summer recipes that can be perked up by their tart and juicy presence. Summer Berry & Crispy Chicken Chopped Salad is a bowl of summer bliss for me, a berry-liciously delicious dish studded with my favorite summery jewels.
Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in their gloriously naked state provide pleasure for the eyes and a surprising zing for the tongue; and they also playfully provide a reminder to take some time to have a little extra fun in the sun.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Summer Berry & Crispy Chicken Chopped Salad with Candied Pecans, Crisp Bacon, Blue Cheese and Sweet Red Berry Vinaigrette
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 2
• 2 smaller skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or 1 larger sliced in half lengthwise)
• Black pepper
• ½ cup flour
• 1 egg, whisked with a tablespoon of water
• ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
• Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
• 2 romaine hearts, chopped finely
• 6 large strawberries, hulled and diced
• 3 ounces (½ container) raspberries
• ¼ cup blueberries
• ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
• 4 strips crispy bacon, chopped
• ¼ cup candied pecans, chopped
• Red Berry Vinaigrette (recipe below)
-Prepare your chicken breasts by sprinkling on a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
-To coat and fry the chicken, dip each piece in the flour and shake off any excess; dip into the whisked eggs, then press into the panko breadcrumbs, and set aside.
-Add enough oil into a medium-large non-stick pan to coat the bottom, about ¼”, and heat; once the oil is hot, add the coated chicken in and lightly fry for about 2-4 minutes per side on medium-high heat, or until golden-brown and crispy, and cooked through; slice into strips and set aside to keep warm.
-To serve, combine the romaine with the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the candied pecans, and lightly toss to combine; add the salad to bowls or plates, then drizzle with as much of the Red Berry Vinaigrette as you like, and top each with an equal portion of the crispy chicken strips.
Red Berry Vinaigrette Ingredients:
• 3 ounces raspberries (the other half of the container from the salad)
• 4 large strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• 3 ½ tablespoons honey
• 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ¾ cup canola oil
-Add the raspberries, the strawberries and the red wine vinegar to the bowl of a food processor, and process until it becomes a smooth and liquid puree; strain the mixture into a clean bowl to remove the seeds (you will have about ¾ cup worth); clean out your processor.
-Add the strained berry/vinegar mixture back into the clean food processor, along with the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the black pepper, and process until combined; with the processor running, drizzle in the oil and process until well blended and emulsified.
-Use immediately, or keep covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.