Welcome to my lunchtime fave: the fuji apple chicken salad! Made at HOME!
I promise this will be the last fall salad! I mean, I almost promise. Yes, I share a ridiculous amount of fall salads, especially including apples, but they are just the best salad add-in. And this one is SO good.
A year or two ago we started getting panera once a week for lunch while working. Mostly, my kids were obsessed with different items, but I have gone through phase after phase of their salads – there are multiples that I really love!
Even though we’re cooking constantly here, sometimes the dishes aren’t ready for lunch (as in, they need to be photographed!) and lunch take out has added the best spark to the day. It also helps that the salads are fairly healthy, even when I do want to get a vat of broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl. As delicious as this is, it puts me in a food coma and I can’t work after!
A long time favorite of mine has been the fuji apple chicken salad. The apple chips, gorgonzola and vinaigrette bring so much life to the salad! I’ve recreated it almost exactly here, with a few exceptions.
Fuji apple chicken salad perfection:
I made my own apple chips, which aren’t quite as crunchy as store-bought ones. You know? They are still really good! Just never as crisp. You can either make your own or grab some from the store. I use these in salads year round, that’s how much I love them.
Also, I either broil or grill some chicken thighs or breasts. It’s delicious, but not necessary. If I was going to prep these for the week ahead, I’d probably use a rotisserie chicken for ease. Or any leftover grilled chicken!
I make pickled onions instead of using raw red sliced onion in the salad. Because pickled onions are ALWAYS better! The tart, briney flavor is out of this world. You can make these ahead of time, of course. I like to keep a batch in the fridge every week.
Finally, I made a creamy champagne vinaigrette instead of a white balsamic. I modeled this after my creamy balsamic dressing in the blueberry salad this summer (which was such a hit!) and oh my word – it is SO good. I’m pretty sure panera has their dressing bottled if you just want to buy that for an extra legit salad. But mine is super close and SO good.
I mean, see that texture?! Crunchy and crisp and refreshing and satisfying and hearty! Everything a salad should be.
Fuji Apple Chicken Salad
fuji apple chicken salad
- 2 fuji apples, thinly sliced (or 1 to 2 cups apple chips)
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- pickled onions, for serving
- 1 cup cubed or shredded chicken breast
- 8 cups spring greens
- ½ cup sliced grape tomatoes
- ⅓ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- salt and pepper
creamy champagne vinaigrette
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- To make the apple chips, preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Thinly slice the fuji apples and place the slices in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 1 hour, then flip the slices and bake for 1 more hour. You can do this head of time and store them at room temp in a bag or container.
- To toast the pecans: heat the pecans in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar. Toss and stir constantly, as the pecans toast and the sugar melts. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until toasty. Remove and spread on a piece of parchment paper to cool. You can leave these whole or chop them.
- To assemble the salad, toss the greens with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Top with chopped chicken, the apple chips, toasted pecans, chicken, gorgonzola, tomatoes and dressing. Toss well and serve!
creamy champagne vinaigrette
- Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, cream, mustard, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stream in the olive oil while whisking until emulsified. Serve with your favorite salad! This dressing stays great in the fridge. Just shake or whisk it to combine before serving.
This is heavenly.
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