Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spinach and Grilled Chicken Salads

Recipe updated February 2015

There’s nothing particularly fancy or special about a spinach salad with grilled chicken, but a good combination of other ingredients and a simple, fresh vinaigrette will liven up an ordinary bowl of greens and fowl.

Choose a balance of tastes and textures, such as crunchy and nutty toasted walnuts, chewy, sweet raisins, and crisp cucumber. Kiwi adds a citrusy touch, and crumbled feta tops the salad with a salty but mild finish. Not many ingredients and nothing hard to find—just a nice mix to complement fresh spinach and lean, grilled chicken breast.

A simple, fresh balsamic vinaigrette packs a lot of flavor on its own. Balsamic vinegar is sweet (as far as vinegars go), and it rounds out the garlic and tangy Dijon mustard.

Tip: Toasting the walnuts brings out a richer, nuttier flavor. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat and add the walnuts. Toast until fragrant, 2-3 minutes, stirring or tossing several times to prevent scorching. Turn out onto a small plate and let cool. Break any larger pieces in half.

Toasted Walnuts
Serves 2


For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast half
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups small spinach leaves (or torn larger leaves)
  • 2-inch piece of cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 kiwi, peeled, halved lengthwise, each half sliced into 5 slices
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Salad Ingredients
Prepared Kiwi and Cucumber

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
  1. Combine the vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Let stand while you prepare the salads.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
For the Salad
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill until lightly charred and just cooked through, 5-6 minutes per side, depending on thickness. 
  2. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool to room temperature. Cut or shred into small pieces.

Chicken Beginning to Grill
Grilled Chicken 
Sliced Chicken
Divide the spinach between 2 plates or salad bowls. Divide the grilled chicken and remaining ingredients on top. Drizzle each with vinaigrette and serve.

Spinach and Grilled Chicken Salads

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