Balsamic Chicken Salad with Avocado Feta and Blackberry
If I could pick a single word to describe an ideal summer evening, it would be “ahhhhhh.” It might not score big literary points, but in a single syllable, it encapsulates the feeling of utter relaxation and release that accompany leisurely warm weather nights. To me, ahhhhhh translates to outdoor patios, cool beverages, and plates piled high with simple, beautiful dishes such as this Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad with Avocado, Feta, and Blackberries.
This post is sponsored by NESTEA.
This super-loaded salad epitomizes summer cooking. It’s fresh, celebrates seasonal ingredients, and best of all, it’s hardly cooking at all!
The chicken marinade is a two-second honey balsamic dressing, the remainder of which does double duty as the dressing for the salad itself. Once the chicken hangs out in the balsamic marinade (30 minutes if you are in a hurry; two hours if you are planning ahead), all that’s left to do is to grill it. The remainder of the “cooking” is basic assembly. Add the ingredients to your serving bowl, give them a toss, and dinner is ready to serve.
Although I love the juicy satisfaction and balsamic tang of the chicken, my favorite part of this salad is the toppings. Avocado and feta make the salad feel luscious and creamy, red onion brings the bite, basil showers it with freshness, and pecans provide warmth and crunch. My favorite addition of all, however, is blackberries. Juicy and not too sweet, their moody hue and subtle tartness give the salad depth and a distinct summer flair.
If your on-hand ingredient list does not match the recipe exactly, fear not. This Balsamic Chicken Salad recipe is ultra flexible. Have extra strawberries and blueberries you’d like to toss in? Go for it! Out of pecans but there’s an extra bag of almonds lurking in your pantry? Use them instead! Think about the different salad elements: crunch (nuts), bite (red onion), creamy (avocado + cheese), and sweet (berries), then find different ways to represent them with the ingredients you have on hand.
In keeping with the easy-breezy nature of this Balsamic Chicken Salad with Avocado, Feta, and Blackberry, I opted to pair it with an easy-breezy drink, NESTEA Peach Tea. I grew up watching my grammy order iced tea whenever she treated my sisters and me to lunch, and it’s still omnipresent at every one of our family cookouts. Thus, when NESTEA asked me to create a no-fuss summer recipe to pair with its peach iced tea, I said, yes please!
While I didn’t appreciate iced tea as much as a kid, the love for it must be hereditary, because as an adult, it’s become one of my favorite beverages to sip on summer afternoons. Rather than fuss with brewing, then chilling, a giant batch of black tea (which is more than I need just for myself or a few friends anyway), I keep little individual containers of iced tea in my refrigerator. When friends stop by, I love being able to offer it. It’s refreshing, feels special, and best of all, takes no advance planning on my part. I’m a fan of NESTEA in particular because it’s not overly sweet and doesn’t contain any high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors or flavors.
I know it’s Tuesday, and many of us have busy weeks ahead. I hope this simple but satisfying Balsamic Chicken Salad with Avocado, Feta, and Blackberries lets you carve a little extra ahhhhhh time into your agenda.
Balsamic Chicken Salad with Avocado Feta and Blackberry
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 small chicken breasts — about 6 ounces each, lightly pounded to an even thickness
- 6 cups fresh spinach — loosely packed
- 2/3 cup blackberries — halved if large
- 1/4 small red onion — thinly sliced
- 1 small avocado — peeled, pitted, and sliced into wedges or chunks
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons toasted pecan halves — roughly chopped
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, briskly whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper until blended.
Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish or large ziptop bag and pour half of the balsamic mixture over the top. Cover the dish (or seal the bag) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Reserve the extra balsamic mixture for serving.
Spray an indoor grill pan or a regular nonstick pan with nonstick spray and heat to medium high. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Once the grill pan is hot, place the chicken breasts the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Flip, then cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Flip the chicken back to the first side, then reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking the chicken for an additional 9 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until it is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The actual cooking time may vary depending upon the thickness of your chicken. Remove to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into bite-size pieces or longer slices as you prefer.
To serve: Place the spinach, blackberries, and onion in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with remaining dressing, then toss to coat. Place the avocado and chicken on top, then sprinkle with the feta, basil, and pecans. Enjoy immediately.
- This salad, once composed, is best enjoyed shortly after it is made.
- Leftover chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature, then use to top additional salads throughout the week.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 2), with dressing and without marinade) — Calories: 542, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 614mg, Carbohydrates: 18g, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 47g
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of NESTEA. The opinions and text are my own. As always, thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue creating quality content for you!
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