Composed Chicken Salad

This is my version of the ever-popular composed salad.  In the spirit of Cobb, or McCarthy, it’s a theme based on the following template:  a bed of fresh greens, a selection of protein-rich ingredients, augmented by fresh vegetables, an assertively flavored dressing, and a crunchy garnish.

 

It’s also a great vehicle for leftovers.  Use what you have on hand, and let your imagination guide you.  It’s a good idea to vary the greens; use a combination of colors and textures, then toss in a few whole leaves of fresh herbs, for punch.  Leftover chicken is the main protein component here, along with hard-cooked eggs, and sharp cheddar cheese.  Juicy, bright diced tomatoes and crumbled bacon add flavor and color.  I made a mustard and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and toasted some sliced almonds to scatter atop the finished salad.

Think about this with tuna as the main focus, along with green beans, diced potatoes and some briny olives.  How about leftover steak or roast beef, with blue cheese, nippy arugula, and roasted beets?  You can customize composed salad in countless ways, and end up with a hearty, satisfying and healthful meal.  Give it a try this weekend and see if you don’t agree.

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Composed Chicken Salad

A composed salad, full of healthful vegetables and protein, dressed with an assertive vinaigrette, and garnished with crunchy nuts. A perfect main course salad, and a delicious platform for leftovers.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups assorted salad greens , choose a few different colors and textures
  • A handful of torn fresh herb leaves , such as flat leaf parsley, basil, mint, tarragon
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced or shredded , cooked chicken
  • 2 hard cooked eggs , quartered
  • 4 slices smoky bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • 1/3 cup small-diced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup toasted , sliced almonds, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a shallow salad bowl, or on a rimmed serving platter, gently toss together the salad greens, herb leaves, and red onion. Arrange the chicken, eggs, bacon, cheese, and tomatoes atop the greens in an attractive pattern (in strips, concentric circles, diagonally, any way that pleases you. Try to alternate colors and textures.)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard, with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Stream in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  3. Present your artfully arranged composed salad, then drizzle some of the dressing atop, and toss gently. Adjust with additional dressing as desired, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and top with the toasted almonds. Serve and enjoy!