Our Harvest Chicken Salad just screams fall! Chicken breasts are cooked in apple cider & thyme, then tossed with apples, cranberries, fresh greens & rosemary pecans then drizzled with apple cider vinaigrette. The perfect lunch for those cool fall days.
I love fall! The cooler weather, the changing leaves and the delicious fresh produce that arrives on store shelves. And salads always seem like the best way to enjoy all of that freshness. Like with my Pomegranate Orange Salad or Pear Walnut Gorgonzola Salad, this Harvest Chicken Salad gives you all those fresh autumn flavors in one bowl. Full of fresh crunchy apples, sweet apple cider, tart cranberries and toasted pecans, this salad just jumps out at you and screams fall!
I’m always looking for something delicious but healthy when lunch time rolls around. I usually do most of my recipe development and baking in the morning so when it’s time for lunch, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking something more. (and if you saw my kitchen after one of my marathon sessions you would understand why) Enter the make ahead harvest chicken salad that tastes just as good the next day as it does the day you make it.
The chicken is poached in apple cider with a sprig of thyme to lend it a little of that Thanksgiving flavor. It only takes about 12 minutes and can be done while the nuts are roasting.
Speaking of the nuts, these rosemary pecans are dangerous! I made them and ate most of them before I had even finished cooking the chicken. Note to self – make double or triple the amount next time. The nuts are savory with a fresh rosemary flavor, buttery and salty. Just the right combination for nibbling and the highlight of this lunchtime salad. I’m even making them for a snack for Thanksgiving. Yep, they’re that good!
The only time-consuming part of this recipe is boiling down the apple cider for the vinaigrette. But you don’t have to sit there and watch it so you can be putting the greens and other ingredients in the bowls while you wait for it. Once the apple cider has cooled a bit, toss a little with the greens & other ingredients to moisten them then serve the rest on the side.
I like to top mine with pecans but you can also add bacon too. I mean, everything is better with bacon, right?! Then dig in to the best fall salad you’ve ever had. It also packs well for lunches and is filling enough for a light dinner too served with a few fresh zucchini muffins.
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1-1/2 cup pecans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 chicken breasts
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
- 2-3 apples, cored & chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- Fresh greens
- Bacon, cooked & chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a large cookie sheet, set butter on pan and place in oven. Let butter melt as oven preheats.
Take cookie sheet out of oven and stir in nuts & rosemary. Sprinkle with salt.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and set aside.
While nuts are baking, heat oil in a large skillet. Season chicken breasts and place in hot pan, searing about 5-6 minutes per side. You want it the outside to be golden brown.
Add thyme sprigs and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Pour in apple cider and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken breasts are cooked through.
Remove chicken to plate and cover with foil.
Turn the heat back to medium high and boil cider until it is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar or honey. Set aside and let cool.
To assemble salad:
Shred chicken and mix with chopped apples, celery, cranberries, rosemary and greens. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss with half of the apple cider mixture. Top with some of the rosemary pecans and chopped bacon, if desired.
Serve with remaining apple cider vinaigrette on side.
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