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Shredded Chicken Strawberry Salad

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As the afternoons get longer (and, in spite of daylight savings, we also seem to be gaining daylight earlier in the morning as well), and the sun starts making appearances more than bi-weekly here in the PNW, our thoughts turn to spring and summer.  About the same time, we start to see strawberries arriving in the local market.  Now, I know they are not really local and nowhere near in season yet.  But before someone chastises us over buying some organic strawberries that are from southern California (unless you live there), consider that after finally plucking the mushrooms off that have formed behind our ears from so many months of wet and dark…a little indulgence to make us feel the sunshine can really help brighten the week.

So, if you are like us and need a little brightness amidst the spring thaw or mixed rain showers, then go ahead and pick up a quart of as-local-as-possible strawberries and give this refreshing salad a shot.  And if you’re really, really strict about waiting for them to be straight from your garden (when they really do taste the best), then bookmark this one for sometime in early June when most of us will actually see a fresh strawberry in its natural environment.

Gather Up:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (we find ours in the bulk section of our market)
  • juice of 4 whole limes
  • 2 tbsp raw local honey
  • 1-1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 jalepeno chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh small mint leaves
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, larger ones torn
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, torn into small pieces
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

Set a large sauce pan or small stock pot on the stove with the chicken breast in it.  Add water to completely cover the chicken, then bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes on a full boil.  Cover and remove from heat, and let stand for another 20 minutes or until the chicken is not longer pink in the middle.  Remove from the water and set on a plate to cool.  Meanwhile, in a giant-sized mixing bowl, combine the strawberries, basil, mint, cilantro, and spinach.  Toss to combine, then set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the coconut in an oven-safe pan and toast for about 4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring at least once.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Combine the fish sauce, honey, lime juice, olive oil, and minced jalepeno in a small prep bowl and whisk to fully combine (make sure the honey is completely dissolved).  Use a fork to shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks and place into a separte mixing bowl (I actually used what would become my serving bowl in the end of the recipe).  Pour the dressing mixture over it and mix it well with the chicken to fully coat.

Finally, add the chicken to the large mixing bowl and toss to mix it with the greens and strawberries.  Transfer the finished salad to a more decorative (and appropriately sized) serving bowl if you like.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with some toasted coconut on top.  This makes a great lunch (you can prepare ahead of time if you like and keep it chilled in the fridge), or a nice light dinner.  And I know that some people will find the amount of mint to be a bit overpowering (while others will wish there was more!), so don’t be afraid to change up the proportions of mint, basil, and cilantro (or any other leafy herbs you want to try) to suit your own tastes.

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