I have been craving a different kind of salad lately and so I decided to make an Orange Walnut Chicken Salad. It is a fantastic blend of flavors and super healthy for you. A great combination of both protein and produce! I made a Honey Orange Vinaigrette to go on top and mixed together baby spinach and romaine lettuce. I then added some oven roasted walnuts for some omega-3 fatty acids, red onions, peppers, feta cheese, and chicken. Delicious!
Orange Walnut Chicken Salad is easy to make and SO yummy!
The inspiration behind this salad was two fold. First, I live in California and have several orange trees. I have a Cara Cara Navel Orange tree and a Washington Navel Orange Tree as well as a Mandarin orange tree.
Washington Navel Orange Tree
January and February are the prime time to harvest oranges for us (the very first ones were ready to harvest at Christmas, which Santa appreciated).
Mandarin Orange Tree
Cara Cara Navel Orange Tree
I LOVE garden fresh organic oranges! I use them in green smoothies almost daily, eat them fresh, juice them, and use them in recipes. The easiest way I have found to peel them quickly is to cut off the top and bottom of the orange and then go around the edges with a knife cutting off the peel as close to the orange as possible. Instead of sectioning it, I cut it in half and then slice it. I then cut each slice into bite-sized pieces. While it’s not the traditional way to section an orange, it is the fastest way I have found and with six hungry kids to feed it’s the way that I use.
The second source of inspiration for this salad was my walnuts. Combining oranges with walnuts (which I love) and chicken sounded really good to me. I also like to mix my organic romaine lettuce with baby spinach to shake things up. I think that they complement each other well. I also love Feta cheese and had just a little bit left on hand for which I was so happy!
The chicken can be prepared several ways. You can slowly cook it in a covered skillet or you can grill it. I prefer grilled chicken myself and have learned how to make it SO tender! You marinate your chicken and while it is marinating, you heat up your grill (I use a gas grill). When you are ready to start your chicken, turn off the heat to one side of you grill (while leaving the other side on). Place you chicken on the side that is off and cover it with a disposable aluminum pan. The heat from the other side of the grill acts like a convection oven. Cook the chicken for about 5-7 minutes and then flip it over and place it on the side of the grill that was just heated. Turn that burner off and cover the chicken with the aluminum pan. Turn on the other side of the grill. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until tender and done. Then place the chicken on the side with the flame for about a minute or so, flipping it, to get light flame marks on your chicken. This is my favorite way to grill chicken.
As far as the rest of the salad goes, I wash and chop the romaine, dice the peppers and onions, and layer all the ingredients on top. The walnuts are superb when oven roasted. For these, I turned the oven on to 350 degrees F and baked them for about 5-7 minutes. You have to watch them really close because they can burn easily. Roasting the walnuts gives a slight crispness to them and really brings out an amazing flavor. My husband went on and on about how good the roasted walnuts were. If you’ve never done it before, give it a try! For the vinaigrette, I squeezed some fresh orange juice from the peels and tops of the oranges. There was just enough to use. So that’s it! Here is the recipe for Orange Walnut Chicken Salad:
- ¼ c chicken broth
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 T lime juice
- ½ tsp. Garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ c walnuts, roasted in the oven
- Feta cheese crumbles (amount is to taste)
- ½ large yellow pepper, diced
- ¼ red onion, diced
- 6 c romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 c baby spinach
- 3 oranges, peeled and diced
- Marinate chicken in oil, chicken broth, lime juice, garlic powder, and pepper.
- Grill according to directions in blog post or cook in a covered skillet until chicken is tender.
- While chicken is cooking, roast walnuts in a 350 degree F. oven for about 5-7 minutes (stir occasionally and watch closely so that they do not burn).
- Prepare lettuce and spinach and place into a large salad bowl (or onto plates).
- Layer diced peppers, onions, and oranges on top.
- Place cooked walnuts on top.
- Thinly slice grilled chicken and lay across the top.
- To make the Honey Orange Vinaigrette, combine the oil, honey, and vinegar into a container or cruet. Add salt, pepper, and orange juice. Shake until will mixed. Drizzle over salad and enjoy!