A Juicy Summer Chicken Salad with Sweet Berries on a Black Ceramic Plate and a Brick Surface.

SUMMER CHICKEN SALAD

with Sweet Berries

Summer chicken salad with sweet berries is a delightful dish that marries the savoury flavours of grilled chicken with the fresh, sweet burst of summer berries.

This dish is perfect for those warm summer days when you want something light yet satisfying. It combines the lean protein of chicken, antioxidant-rich berries, and a variety of greens to create a colourful and nutritious meal.

The salad typically starts with a base of mixed greens like arugula, spinach, or romaine lettuce, providing a crisp and refreshing foundation.

Grilled chicken, sliced or diced, adds a smoky depth and a hearty element to the salad, making it a fulfilling main course.

The real stars of the dish, however, are the berries. A mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries or just one or two, depending on your preference) introduces a natural sweetness and a pop of colour that make the salad visually appealing and tantalizing to the taste buds.

To tie all the components together, a homemade balsamic vinaigrette is drizzled over the top. This dressing can also be swapped out for a citrusy poppy seed option or something similar.

The acidity and slight sweetness of the dressing enhance the flavours of the chicken and berries, creating a harmonious blend of tastes. For an added crunch and a nutty flavour, you can substitute toasted almonds or walnuts for the pecans in this recipe.

This summer chicken salad is not only a feast for the eyes but also a celebration of the fresh, vibrant flavours of the season.

A CELEBRATION OF SUMMER FLAVOURS

As the ice thaws and the warm embrace of summer begins to unfurl across Southern Manitoba, communities find a unique and delightful way to reconnect through the simple, yet enriching activity of berry picking.

This time-honoured tradition marks not just the change of seasons but a communal rite of passage from the solitude of winter to the vibrant social tapestry of summer.

Amidst the verdant fields and under the expansive blue skies, people of all ages come together, baskets in hand, ready to reap the bounties of nature. It’s a scene characterized by soft chatter, the occasional burst of laughter, and the rustling of leaves as hands gently search for the ripest fruits.

This collective endeavor does more than just fill baskets; it fills hearts and fosters a sense of community. The act of berry picking, bending, and reaching for those sweet treasures is a form of exercise that engages the body in a gentle dance with nature.

It’s an activity that encourages mindfulness and appreciation for the small wonders of the natural world, from the intricate pattern of a berry’s skin to the symphony of sounds that accompany a day in the countryside.

As the sun arches across the sky, casting its golden light, the fields become a place of connection, not just with the earth and its produce but with fellow community members sharing the experience.

From the fruits of this labour comes the creation of dishes that encapsulate the essence of the season, like the sunny salad that bursts with the flavours of the early harvest.

This salad is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of community, health, and the joy of shared experiences. Made with fresh, hand-picked berries, tender greens, and a vibrant dressing, it nourishes the body and soul.

Each bite is a reminder of the warmth of the sun, the resilience of the earth, and the sweetness of human connection. As families and friends gather around tables laden with the fruits of their collective labour, the salad stands as a testament to the beauty of coming together after a long winter, to socialize, exercise, and partake in the simple pleasures of life.

A COMPLEMENTARY PAIRING

Sweet berries are the perfect complement to savoury chicken. With each being easily substituted for others, like turkey or tofu and haskap berries or saskatoons. 

Other fresh greens like spinach or mesclun mixes can also be used. Or a vibrant, lemon vinaigrette vs the raspberry option used here. You can even use smaller portions of each ingredient for a single serving or multiply them for large gatherings. 

The delightful combination of sweet berries and savoury chicken presents a culinary canvas open to endless variations, making it a versatile dish perfect for any occasion.

Incorporating fresh greens into the mix enhances the dish’s freshness and nutritional value. Spinach, with its mildly sweet flavour, or a mesclun mix, offering a peppery bite, both complement the sweet and savoury components perfectly.

These greens serve as a vibrant base, adding colour, texture, and a wealth of vitamins to the meal. Adjusting the type of greens based on availability or preference is a simple way to personalize the dish, making it adaptable to different tastes and dietary needs.

The choice of dressing further personalizes the dish, allowing for a play of flavours that can be tailored to the occasion or season.

A zesty lemon vinaigrette offers a refreshing sharpness, cutting through the sweetness of the berries and the richness of the meat, while a raspberry vinaigrette could provide a lovely echo of the berry component, tying the salad components together with a sweet and tangy ribbon.

The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity and adaptability, offering a delightful culinary experience that is both satisfying and healthful. Perfect for a summer gathering or a cozy dinner at home, it’s a testament to the harmony of flavours that can be achieved when sweet meets savoury.

Total Prep Time:
30min

Servings in Recipe:
4

Serving Size:
2 cups

Calories Per Serving:
477

Total Prep Time: 30 min


Servings in Recipe: 4


Serving Size: 2 cups


Calories Per Serving: 477

A Juicy Summer Chicken Salad with Sweet Berries on a Black Ceramic Plate and a Brick Surface.

SUMMER CHICKEN SALAD

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head fresh butter lettuce, loosely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/8 cup red onion, short-sliced
  • 1/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing
Summer Chicken Salad Ingredients. Raspberry vinaigrette in a glass bottle, a bowl of fresh greens and a few fresh blueberries scattered around.
Summer Chicken Salad Ingredients. Raspberry vinaigrette in a glass bottle, a bowl of fresh greens and a few fresh blueberries scattered around.

Directions

  • In a large pan, heat oil
  • Brown cubed chicken over medium-low heat until cooked through, salt/pepper to taste
  • While chicken is browning, shred lettuce into a large serving bowl
  • Add spinach and arugula
  • Add feta, pecans, blueberries and red onion
  • Set chicken aside and allow to cool, once nicely browned.
  • Add chicken to salad bowl, once cooled.
  • Drizzle salad with raspberry vinaigrette (approx 1/2 cup is perfect) and serve.

SUMMER CHICKEN SALAD FAQ

How long will chicken salad keep in the fridge?

When it comes to storing chicken salad in the fridge, the key factor is ensuring it remains safe to eat and retains its best quality. Generally, chicken salad can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days when stored properly.

It’s vital to keep it in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing odors from other foods and to maintain its freshness.

The storage time can vary based on the freshness of the ingredients used to make the chicken salad. For example, if the chicken was cooked and then immediately cooled and prepared into a salad, you might be at the higher end of that storage window.

Conversely, if the chicken or any other ingredients were near the end of their freshness when the salad was prepared, you might want to consume it sooner.

To ensure the safety and quality of your chicken salad, always refrigerate it within two hours of preparation. If at any point the salad smells off or the texture changes in an unappetizing way, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

When did chicken salad become popular?

The origin of chicken salad is somewhat hazy, as different cultures have long histories of combining cold, cooked chicken with a variety of ingredients. However, the version that led to the modern chicken salad likely has its roots in the early 1800s.

The first published attempt at a sweet and savoury salad recipe appeared in 1863, in Godey’s Lady’s Book, a prominent women’s magazine of the time. This version mixed cold chicken with grapes, celery, and mayonnaise, a combination that remains popular to this day.

The popularity of chicken salad grew in the 20th century, particularly with the advent of commercial mayonnaise, which made the dish easier and faster to prepare. It became a staple in North American cuisine, served at luncheons, picnics and as a filling for sandwiches.


SUGGESTED SIDES and PAIRINGS for SUMMER CHICKEN SALAD

Artisan Cracker and Fruit Charcuterie

Spring Pea Soup

Sliced Avocado on
Sourdough Croutes

Grilled Peaches on Brioche Toast

Quails’ Gate
Chasselas Pinot Blanc

Blue Mountain Estate
Cuvée Gamay Noir

Jenni Juniper | Culinary Meditations
Jenni Juniper | Culinary Meditations