It’s a grilled chicken berry salad right in time for the summer holiday!
Summer has finally arrived in Iowa! One week ago, I was enjoying a cool 60-degree evening on my front porch with a hot cup of coffee. Today I’m cooling off inside with the air conditioner after spending an entire day outside with heat index temperatures over 100. I guess the old moniker really is correct: if you hate the weather in Iowa, wait until tomorrow. But the warm weather really came at the perfect time: July 4th!
Even though summer started a couple of weeks ago, the Fourth of July marks the pinnacle of summer. Parties, fireworks, parades, and all things outdoors make the summer celebration memorable. For the Fourth, there’s a good chance you’re going to grill outside. I mean, isn’t that a necessity? An excellent grilled meal needs a refreshing, crunchy salad, and this grilled chicken berry salad is worthy of any celebration.
Toppings make the salad
I’m all for salads during the summer. Growing up, we often grilled most summer evenings: pork burgers, hamburgers, brats. The meat was often a given, but the salad was the star. What always makes a salad truly great are the extra components. In my opinion, a summer salad needs in-season berries. And why pick just one?
Iowa has long winters. I mean seriously cold, dark, long winters. This last year, we had days – yes, that is plural – of negative 30-degree Fahrenheit weather. So when summer hits and fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are ready for the picking, you better believe I’m going to choose all three.
Lemon poppy seed dressing
If berries seem like an exotic salad addition, you have to understand the relationship between
That’s why lemon poppy seed dressing is needed for this berry salad. The slightly creamy, sweet, and tangy dressing perfectly pairs the berries with the greens to create the ultimate combination.
Bonus: if you really want to amp up the flavor in this dressing, you can totally grill some lemons while your grill is on.
Do not even think about taking a shortcut by buying a poppy seed dressing. This is super simple and tastes so much better than anything from the store!
Add some grilled chicken on top!
Since we’ll all be at the grill this holiday (and maybe the entire summer?), the salad is topped off with some grilled chicken. I know, I know – chicken can seem boring, but stop for a minute and think about it: who doesn’t love grilled chicken? Kids, adults, teenagers, we all love chicken.
To give the chicken loads of flavor, a quick marinade composed of lemon and garlic makes a world of difference. And once it picks up the charbroiled flavor from the grill, the salad sings. Literally! If you watch the video (?), all that music in the background is coming right from the salad ?.
Watch how to make this grilled chicken berry salad:
Grilled Chicken Berry Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
For the chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 smashed garlic cloves
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup grilled lemon juice, grilled component optional
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey, or agave syrup
- 3/4 cup neutral oil, vegetable or safflower
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, or sour cream
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
For the salad
- 8 cups baby spinach leaves
- 4 oz blueberries
- 4 oz raspberries
- 6 oz strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- In a gallon-size zip-top bag, combine the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, and smashed garlic. Mix to combine and add the chicken breasts. Squeeze the air out and zip the bag shut tightly. Marinate in refrigerator 1-2 hours.
- Remove the marinated chicken from refrigerator 15 minutes before grilling. Grill over high heat, turning once until the breasts register 160°F in the thickest part of the breast, about six minutes per side. Optional: grill lemons while grilling the chicken.
- Once at the correct temperature, remove chicken and lemons from the grill and let rest while preparing the dressing.
- In a medium bowl, combine the grilled lemon juice, lemon zest, dijon mustard, honey, oil, Greek yogurt, and poppy seeds. Whisk to combine.
- Assemble salad by placing cleaned spinach on a large plater. Pour on dressing and toss to combine. Reserve some of the dressing to drizzle on the chicken later.
- Top with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and feta cheese.
- Cut chicken crosswise and spread across the salad. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve.