This post is in partnership with NOW Foods. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Boring salads are a no-no in our house. There’s no rule that says salads have to be a lackluster side to go along with the rest of your meal. With just a little extra effort and the right additions, salads can go from “meh” to “mmm…” and transform salads into beautiful, nutritious and delicious balanced meals. It’s always worth the effort to take a few minutes to prep delicious toppings and make homemade dressing to create a truly memorable and crave-able salad.
This berry chicken salad is one of my absolutely favorite summertime meals! It’s loaded with so many mouth watering flavors and it’s really a simple dish that is loved by most everyone. Garlicky grilled chicken, fresh spinach and crunchy romaine, sweet strawberries, red onion, crunchy nuts and feta cheese combine together for a burst of flavor and textures. The most important part of this salad is definitely the homemade strawberry basil vinaigrette.
When it comes down to it, fresh and homemade salad dressing will always give a salad the extra drizzle of deliciousness to make you crave it again and again. This strawberry basil vinaigrette is seriously so easy to make and uses a handful of ingredients. I’m always looking for ways to use up our basil when it goes on a growing spree (this pesto is my favorite) and fresh basil gives this dressing the ultimate summer flavor. Add in extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, strawberries and a little spice and you’re good to go!
Many store-bought dressings are full of refined sugars and additives so I love making my own dressings whenever I can. While this recipe isn’t sugar free, it is made with healthier alternatives. Making your own salad dressing can sound intimidating, but it’s really quite easy. Extra virgin olive oil is most often my oil of choice when it comes to creating dressings (unless I’m going for an asian inspired and then I reach for sesame oil).
I’m always stocked up with NOW Foods Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil as I’ve found that it has a smooth balanced flavor that works well for dressings, marinades and cooking. NOW has super innovative practices and testing to ensure high quality and that it’s a “true” olive oil and not diluted with other cheap oils (learn all about NOW’s testing processes here). Olive oil is also believed to have heart healthy attributes! Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. A serving a day is an easy way to support heart health and it’s delicious and healthier than other alternatives.
For this dressing, simply add all the ingredients into a blender, pulse and you’re all set! I chose red wine vinegar for this dressing as it has a more mild flavor than balsamic vinegar to really let the strawberries shine through. Creamy Manuka honey adds the perfect sweetness, garlic adds a little dimension and the fresh basil really just pulls it all together.
A hearty drizzle of this dressing on a bed of greens and grilled chicken just screams summertime! It’s the perfect patio dinner for these last weeks of summer. You can add whatever extra veggies you like (I love cherry tomatoes when I have them), but the red onions really complement the sweet and tangy dressing. Feta and crunchy toasted nuts are the final touch! I love using pecans and you can even use candied nuts, like NOW honey roasted pecans (a family favorite for for everyday snacking).
Do you like fruit on salad?