This pecan crusted chicken salad is bringing allll the cheer in the new year.
Doesn’t it look so fresh?! So filling? So I-want-to-jump-in-right-now good?
I’ve made a lot of kale salads over the years and this one is just as great as all the others. Don’t make me choose a favorite!
We start with some pecan crusted chicken. I’ve made pecan crusted chicken before (seriously how was that eight years ago?!) and threw it into a wrap, which was lovely. It’s funny because I made that pecan chicken based on the same salad that inspired me for this pecan chicken! I just can’t get away from it.
I use the method that I always use – a wire rack, olive oil mist and high heat – to get the thick pecan “breading” on the outside. It’s fantastic! It also ups the chances that your kids will eat these (Emilia called them chicken nuggets multiple times) and heck, will make you enjoy the chicken more too.
If I do say so myself.
If you’re not feeling a salad, this chicken is great for any meal! Fantastic with some house sauce too.
But if you are in the mood for a big salad bowl?
This one checks all the boxes!
The chicken is ridiculously flavorful AND also breaded, so it’s crisp and delicious. It adds that extra crunch to a salad. I know that I always want crunchy chicken tenders on a salad if I can get them. The “breading” of pecans is huge, because if you’re anything like me, I instantly want chicken more when it has a topping.
The cara cara oranges are slightly sweet and tart – so good. Citrus season is rocking my world. And the cucumbers are light and freshing.
The pickled onions are tangy and briney. You can find the recipe I use here. Make a batch each week and stick them in the fridge! They work on all the things.
The pecorino is rich and salty and adds the cheese to a salad that we all love, but does it with just a small sprinkling because it’s loaded with flavor.
Oh and the dressing! Triple citrus, whatwhat! We’re using lemon, orange and grapefruit. YUM.
I know this whole bowl is a little high maintenance – you have to make the chicken; there appear to be lots of ingredients in the dressing. However, if you’re in a pinch, just make the chicken ahead of time and use whatever dressing you prefer, from a bottle or whatever. Use mandarin oranges in juice as opposed to segmenting a fresh orange. Use a sliced shallot if you don’t have time for pickled onions. Make it your own and don’t let the ingredient list scare you!
This is seriously such a wonderful, fresh salad for the new year. Adore it!
Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad
Yield: 2 to 4 people
This pecan crusted chicken salad is so hearty! Kale, cara cara oranges, pickled onions, cucumbers and pecorino make this a bowl of flavor.
pecan crusted chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ⅓ cups unsalted pecans
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- olive oil mist/spray
triple citrus vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large bunch kale, leaves torn from stems
- 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cara cara oranges, segmented
- 1 seedless cucumber, sliced
- ½ cup whole pecans
- ¼ cup shaved pecorino romano cheese
- pickled onions, if you want!
pecan crusted chicken
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil then top it with a wire rack. Spray the rack with nonstick spray.
Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbs remain. (You can add a pinch of salt and pepper to the pecans but I love the buttery flavor without.) Place the pecans on a plate. Place the eggs on another large plate or bowl.
Dip each chicken tender in the eggs then in the pecans, pressing gently to adhere. Place the tender on the wire rack and repeat with the remaining,
Bake the tenders for 12 minutes then flip and bake for 12 minutes more.
triple citrus vinaigrette
Whisk all ingredients together until combined and emulsified. This dressing stays great in the fridge for about a week.
Place the kale on a cutting board and chop until shredded. Place the kale in the bowl and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Massage the kale for 2 to 3 minutes until it’s all coated. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Assemble the salad by adding the oranges, pecans, pickled onions, oranges, cucumbers and chicken to the kale. Drizzle on the dressing and pecorino. Serve
Pretty much going to faceplant into this bowl. Because WOW.