gluten free,  main course,  salads

Ultimate Chicken + Avocado Caprese Salad

It’s that time of year when we are inundated with images of summer-readiness attire + activities + dietary regimen.

It can be so stressful getting back on track after the holidays in preparation for the nearly naked time of year. (Seriously, have you seen how tiny bikinis are nowadays?)

But there is no stress at all with preparing or eating this delightfully light yet satisfying Ultimate Chicken + Avocado Caprese Salad! I’d go so far as to say this salad is crazy easy to prepare. Simply do a sweep through the produce aisle of the market, grab a rotisserie chicken, and throw together some dressing fixins and you’re set!

This salad is bursting with healthy greens + tomatoes (and all the goodness they bring to the table) + lean chicken + skim milk buffalo mozzarella + and unctuous (yet healthy!) balsamic dressing (which, by the way, I could drink as a cocktail) + especially those creamy Haas avocados! My philosophy is more avocados = merrier me.

And then there’s the fresh basil from my garden–wow! Basil, of course, because it is an integral component of caprese!  I love to chiffonade basil because it produces beautiful herby ribbons. You simply stack your basil leaves, roll them tightly and slice them perpendicularly. And the smell!  OMG! It’s difficult to describe its fragrance. Sweet? Herbaceous? Floral? Yes, yes, and yes. And so perfectly paired with my aged balsamic from Golden Isles Olive Oil .

NOTE: I used rotisserie chicken because, you know, there aren’t a whole lot of hours left in a day after we get home from work. But you can absolutely pan sear/roast/grill your own chicken breasts for this salad. Cooking your own chicken gives you more control over the amount of sodium and other seasonings. In fact, this salad dressing would make an incredible marinade for your chicken. If you have 20-30 minutes, go for it! (Below is a little guidance if you want to prepare your own chicken in lieu of store bought rotisserie.)

This salad has been taste-tested by The Man and some persnickety clean + lean friends. They gave it 4 out of 4 thumbs up.

This Ultimate Chicken + Avocado Caprese Salad pairs well with a crisp, vibrant (read acidic) white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc. Or if you are so inclined, drink bubbles.

Enjoy!

XXOO AB

If you make this Ultimate Chicken + Avocado Caprese Salad, I’d love to hear about it! Leave comments below and tag #nakedepicurean on Instagram so we can celebrate together!

Ultimate Chicken + Avocado Caprese Salad (for 4)

INGREDIENTS for the DRESSING (or MARINADE)
  • ½  cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
INGREDIENTS for the SALAD
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (or 3-4 cooked chicken breasts)  
  • 5 cups Romaine or other greens such as a spring mix
  • 2+ avocados, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup bocconcini (mini mozzarella cheese balls)
  • 1 red onion, sliced into rings
  • ¼  cup basil leaves, chiffonade
  • sliced chicken
  • S&P
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Whisk dressing ingredients together to combine.
  2. Combine lettuce(s), avocado slices, tomatoes, bocconcini, onion and chicken. Sprinkle with basil strips and drizzle with dressing. Season to taste with S&P.

If you are preparing your own chicken…

  • Completely thaw chicken if frozen.
  • Pat chicken dry.
  • Season chicken with S&P on both sides if not using marinade.
  • Make sure internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F at thickest part of chicken.
  • Try to use breasts that are comparatively the same size for even cooking.
  • If the breasts vary in thickness, you can use a mallet or small, heavy pan to flatten the thicker one.

To marinate

Place chicken breasts in a shallow dish with 4 tablespoons of the marinade and coat evenly. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, occasionally flipping. Discard used marinade.

To pan sear on stove

Heat about one teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear breasts about 10 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy and cooked through. Once chicken is cooked, set aside and allow to rest. After 5-10 minutes or so, slice chicken into strips.

To roast in oven

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Add a teaspoon of oil to an oven safe pan over medium-high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken. Brown the chicken about 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Time will depend on the size of the breasts. Once chicken is cooked, set aside and allow to rest. After 5-10 minutes or so, slice chicken into strips.

To grill*

Preheat grill to medium. If using a charcoal grill, gauge the temperature by holding your hand 5 inches above the grate. If you can keep it there comfortably for 4-6 seconds, it’s at medium heat. Place breasts on grate and cover the grill, letting chicken cook for 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill for 5-7 minutes longer, depending on size of breasts. Once chicken is cooked, set aside and allow to rest. After 5-10 minutes or so, slice chicken into strips.

*Use caution if you are grilling marinated chicken as the sugars in the marinade will caramelize and turn very dark.

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