I would love to say that I was feeling especially patriotic while making this salad, but really?
I was thinking about Panera.
My friend and I ate there a few days ago, following our usual business meetings: TJ Maxx, coffee, Target, Nordstrom Rack…you get the idea. It’s vigorous—not for the faint of blood sugar. By 2pm, I was crashing. Panera seemed the nearest and quickest option, so in we went. She went with her old stand-by: Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, while I ordered the Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad (chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, Mandarin oranges, pecans, and poppyseed dressing). Five minutes later, I was in my glory. The salad, thankfully size-able enough for a hearty eater like me, was fruit-filled and super sweet, which I loved. If the options are sweet or savory, I am always picking sweet. Savory can go straight to bed as far as I’m concerned.
Since that lunch trip, I haven’t been able to get Panera’s fruit-focused creation out of my mind. Com-pletely normal, I’m telling you. Although it’s not quite the same (better?), this red, white, and blue number you see here has turned out to be quite the tasty take on it. It’s got strawberries, blueberries, and a few raspberries that I had on hand (though, they’re not called for in the recipe for the sake of ease—who wants to have to buy three kinds of berries for one recipe?). To the fruity mix, I added mixed baby greens, grilled chicken for some heft and staying power, crumbled feta for richness and a break from the sugar (what am I saying?), and—oh my gosh does this make life easier—a store-bought light honey Dijon dressing that I’ve been using lately in Mom’s salads.
Altogether, the flavor is fantastic—refreshing, sweet, and satisfying. Feel free to leave out the chicken and serve the greens, berries, and feta by themselves as a starter salad or a side dish. Perfect for any cookout, and certainly festive for the Fourth of July. Enjoy!
*Also recommended for a packed lunch!