Strawberry Chicken Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing – This all-in-one salad is the perfect lunch or light dinner during the warmer months. It’s got a little bit of everything! (Gluten free & paleo)
One of the things I love most about the transition from cold weather to warm weather is the change in food. While I crave stews, soups, and cozy dishes all winter long, by spring and summer, I’m all about the light dishes–simply cooked meals with minimal fuss.
And some of the best lighter food? Salads.
Admittedly, while the base is plenty of fresh spinach, this Strawberry Chicken Salad is loaded (and I mean LOADED!) with goodies–creamy avocado, crispy bacon, savory chicken, crunchy almonds, and fresh berries. Then to pull it all together, there’s a gorgeous strawberry balsamic dressing that makes the salad SING.
Yep, this is one of those salads that’s on repeat all through the warmer months. It’s just so bright and fresh (not to mention colorful!). It makes the most of those early spring berries and takes you all the way through summer.
I love that it’s an all-in-one meal. It’s got protein, fat, carbs, veggies, fruits, nuts, etc. It’s got just enough crunch, sweetness, smokiness, and brightness–what salad dreams are made of! I pile an extra big serving on my plate for dinner or enjoy a more moderate serving for lunch and always finish feeling satisfied.
Notes On This Strawberry Chicken Salad
Let’s Talk Dressing – This recipe makes about 1 cup or so of dressing. That’s more than you’ll need for 4 servings, but the remaining dressing can be used for leftovers or more salads throughout the week. Leftover dressing will keep about 5 days or so in the fridge in an airtight jar or container.
Tools of the Trade – This is a great job for an immersion blender (I just put all my dressing ingredients in the immersion blender jar and puree till smooth). Or, you can toss everything in a regular blender and let it go till smooth.
Meal Prep Containers & Storage – This is a yummy recipe for packing in lunches. I assemble the strawberries, chicken, greens, and bacon, then add the avocado, almonds, and dressing right before serving. These 3-compartment or 2-compartment containers are my favorite meal prep containers, though these little mason jar inserts are really handy for packing dressing for on-the-go lunches.
Change It Up! – This is very easy to mix and match. You can add some mandarin oranges, or diced apples. You can leave out the bacon, or use smoked or candied almonds. Do what you like!
Love This? You Might Also Love…
- BLT Chicken Salad Avocado Cups (Paleo & Whole30)
- Honey Lime Fruit Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad (Paleo & Whole30)
For the Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- 1 cup strawberries (fresh or thawed frozen)
- 3 Tbsp minced red onion
- 2-3 Tbsp honey
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
For the Salad:
- 6-8 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup cooked chicken (shredded or cubed)
- 4-6oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
- 3/4 cup almonds (can sub cashews or pumpkin seeds)
- 1 avocado, diced
MAKE THE DRESSING:
Place all ingredients in a blender (or a jar if using an immersion blender). Puree until very smooth. (This will make more dressing than you need). Leftover dressing will keep about 5 days in the fridge.
MAKE THE SALAD:
Toss about 1/2 cup of the dressing with your spinach leaves. Add chicken, bacon, strawberries, almonds, and avocado. Gently toss to combine, adding more dressing or spinach as desired. Serve immediately.