Jay’s idea! As all the good ones are, he’ll tell you.
I don’t know exactly where this idea came from, but it continues my excessive use of yellow curry this year, which I’m 1,000% ok with. I can’t stop finding new favorite uses for it. This salad is SO good, super filling but without the heavy feel of a chicken salad with a mayo base, love those though I do. INSTEAD we have my new fav way to cook chicken. Thighs, crisped in a pan. Then we shred the meat and cook it again in the same pan so we end up with tons of crispy edges. There is butter involved but it’s skinless chicken so balance, you know?
Besides your new favorite chicken we have black pepper roasted grapes, spiced pecans, and a super simple + flavorful creamy dressing with only a teensy bit of mayo.
Honestly, there are a few components in the dish and it does take some time. BUT, if you roast the nuts and the grapes at the same time while you make the dressing and chicken this salad can be ready in way under and hour. You can also make everything but the chicken in advance and toss it all together for dinner.
I think the first thing to do is preheat the oven to 400F for the grapes and the pecans, then get those in the oven. While they roast (2 different pans, 2 different cooking times), you can work on the rest of the salad. The pecans are flavored with brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and chili powder.
I like to set spices for crusted stuff like this with cooking spray. Arrange the pecans on a small baking sheet in one layer, then spray them with cooking spray.
Sprinkle all of the seasonings over the nuts, then roast them for 8 minutes until they’re dark at the edges but not burned.
Again, I do this at the same time as the grapes, but wanted to show the components separately for clarity.
For the grapes! It’s grapes, any kind you like, olive oil, and black pepper. That’s it!
Toss the grapes with the oil and pepper in a small dish, then roast them for 15-20 minutes until they’re slightly wilted and a few have burst. They should still be juicy when you take them out of the oven.
Now, dressing! The base is half and half and vinegar for a tiny ode to buttermilk dressing. Mayo for creamyness, salt, onion powder and garlic powder for flavor. Ranch without herbs, essentially.
I like to make dressings like this in jars.
Shake everything together, taste, add more vinegar or salt if you’d like! This is a great all-purpose dressing for salads all week, so you could make a double batch and keep it in the fridge all week!
So at this point we have grapes, nuts, and dressing done. Time for chicken! Again, if you’re quick and organized you can be cooking the chicken on the stovetop while the rest of the items for the salad are in progress. I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, yellow curry powder, salt, and butter.
To start, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the curry powder and salt on the chicken.
Place the chicken in the hot skillet with the curry powder down, then season the other side of the chicken.
Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side until it’s browned and the thighs are nearly cooked through, then remove it to a plate to rest. Turn the skillet off for a minute so you don’t burn any chicken drippings in the bottom of the skillet. When the chicken is cool enough to handle (or use forks), shred it into large bite diced pieces.
When the chicken is shredded, turn the heat BACK on the skillet, this time to medium-high. Melt the rest of the butter in the skillet and scrape up any big chicken bits that remain. Add the shredded chicken in one single layer and let it crisp without stirring it for 3-4 minutes. When the chicken starts to brown, flip it, let it brown on the other side for maybe 2 more minutes, then turn it off! The idea is to get some extra crispy chicken edges without cooking the chicken a lot more.
NOW, we are ready to build a salad. I use half spinach/half romaine for health and crunch. Then we have the pecans, grapes, chicken, and dressing!
Look! I love how much green there is in this, and the flavors from the pecans and grapes are so. freaking. good. The chicken is the star of the show (to me), and the dressing makes everything feel like family. I thought about adding celery or fresh herbs to this, which would be delicious, but there was already so much going on that I left it alone, and I’m glad I did so that nothing was competing with the flavors I already had.
Monday night! You could totes make a big batch of this and eat it for lunches all week. Enjoy!
- 1 cup seedless grapes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- cooking spray
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 6 cups mixed salad greens, any kind you like
Preheat the oven to 400F. For the grapes, toss in a small baking pan with the oil and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes until soft and wrinkly but still juicy.
On a separate small baking pan, spray the pecans with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the spices and sugar. Roast for 8 minutes until slightly toasted but not burned.
Make the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake to combine, then taste. Add more salt or vinegar to your preference.
For the chicken, sprinkle all over with the curry powder and salt. Heat a skillet to medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side until browned and nearly cooked through. Remove from the pan to a plate and turn the heat off the skillet.
When the chicken is cook enough to handle, shred it into large bite-sized pieces. Turn the skillet back on to medium-high heat and add the rest of the butter to the skillet. When the butter foams, add the chicken pieces in one layer to the skillet. Let the chicken cook in one layer without disturbing it for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for 2 minutes more to crisp the edges, then remove from the heat.
Divide the salad greens among plates. Top with grapes, pecans, chicken, and buttermilk dressing. Enjoy!