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Tender Greens with Pears, Apples, Grapes, Gorgonzola, and Grilled Chicken Recipe

Course: Main Course
Total Time: A Day Or More
Skill Level: Easy
Cost: Moderate
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Tender Greens with Pears, Apples, Grapes, Gorgonzola, and Grilled Chicken

Photo by: Mark Ferri

If you’ve never put sweet fruit into a savory salad, I urge you to try this recipe. The contrast between the cool, crisp fruit and the creamy cheese, savory chicken, toasted nuts, and tender greens makes this salad unusually good.

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings as a Main Course


For the dressing and marinade:

  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 4 heaping tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup pure olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Asian chili paste (available in Asian markets and some well-stocked supermarkets)
  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the salad:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 generous cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil or vegetable spray
  • 1 pound (14 to 16 cups) mesclun, rinsed and spun-dry
  • 1 generous cup red seedless grapes
  • 2 large unpeeled, cored, and cubed ripe pears (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 large unpeeled Granny Smith apple, julienned (about 1 cup)
  • 12 ounces Gorgonzola cheese (preferably a high-quality creamy type, like dolcelatte dolce), chilled and cut into medium dice


Marinate the chicken. Use a whisk to combine the shallots, mustard, salt, juice concentrate, vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper in a nonreactive bowl. Pour 1 cup of the prepared dressing into another nonreactive bowl and stir in the chili paste to create the marinade. Chill the remaining dressing until needed. (The dressing improves if assembled several hours before serving.) Rinse and pat the chicken dry, and place in a nonreactive dish. Season the chicken on both sides with black pepper and pour the marinade over the pieces, coating well on both sides. Cover the dish and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Prepare the salad. Place a doubled sheet of paper towels on a plate and set aside. Melt the butter in a 10- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and, when hot and bubbling, stir in the nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and light golden, about 2 minutes. Pour the nuts onto the prepared plate and shimmy them to remove the excess butter. Remove the paper, leaving the nuts on the plate, and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Set the nuts aside.

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling. Heat an outdoor gas grill on high or heat a charcoal grill to the gray ash stage. Alternatively, heat a large stove-top grill-pan until very hot, with your overhead exhaust fan turned on. When hot, oil the rack to your grill or your grill pan and, after letting the oiled surface heat for a minute or so, lay the marinated chicken pieces on the hot surface (discard the marinade). Grill the chicken until golden on each side and the meat is cooked through but still succulent, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes, tented loosely with aluminum foil.

Slice the chicken into diagonal strips and sprinkle the pieces lightly with salt. Place the greens in a large mixing bowl and lightly coat with some of the reserved dressing. Add the grapes, pears, apples, and half of both the cheese and the toasted nuts. Toss the mixture gently but thoroughly, then divide the salad among individual serving plates and scatter the remaining cheese and nuts lightly over the top. Arrange several slices of grilled chicken either on top or around the salad and serve immediately, with any additional dressing passed separately at the table.


Timing is Everything

The chicken can be marinated one day ahead and kept refrigerated. You can grill the chicken 2 hours ahead and serve it at room temperature. Slice just before servings.

The greens can be cleaned and spun-dry two days ahead and kept refrigerated in a jumbo plastic bag lined with paper towels.

© 2004 by Lauren Groveman

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 8 servings and on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.

757kcal (38%)
290mg (29%)
21mg (35%)
375mcg RAE (12%)
115mg (38%)
1425mg (59%)
15g (76%)
55g (85%)
2mg (13%)

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