Pulled Chicken Salad with Honey-Cilantro Vinaigrette
The summer after graduating college I interned at a start-up technology company called Food Genius. I’m still not entirely sure exactly what they did or how they did what they did, but I do know they created an algorithm that tracked millions of menu items from restaurants across the country, and then used that data to understand current food trends and to predict upcoming food trends… And in return, they provided that insight to professionals in the food industry… In other words, these are not my words at all and I had to Google them quickly to make sure I was saying it correctly… It’s really surprising that I didn’t get a job there after my internship…
Anyway, I was hired on to write copy for their website and manage their social media platforms, but I’m preeeetttty sure they just hired me because they wanted some diversity (i.e., a girl) and they could get baked goods out of me… Just kidding, kind of. When I proved to be ineffective in writing copy for the company’s website (because really, I have zero technical writing experience and the only writing experience I have is for this blog and I STILL have no idea what the company actually did), I was deemed responsible for creating a master copy of ALLLLLLLLL of the chain restaurants in the United States, including their locations, menus, nutritional guides, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else they thought would prove useful.
I am a compulsive pre-orderer and always look up restaurant menus online so you would think I would LOVE this task, but oh, my gosh… Those were some of the longest days of my life. Slash, I’m really hoping I never want to work for this company in the future, because they would surely love reading this. Oh, hey Eli and Justin! What’s up? There are literally thousands of chain restaurants in the United States and I refuse to eat at most of them on principle alone. There’s something about an 1,800 calorie salad that doesn’t appeal to me… Yeah, Cheesecake Factory, I’ve read your nutritional guide enough times to recite it.
So, California Pizza Kitchen isn’t that much better, but when I read that the infamous CPK was the inspiration behind Lindsay of Pinch of Yum’s Shrimp and Avocado Salad recipe, I thought I should reframe my thinking because her take on the chain’s salad was so delicious, healthy, and fresh. I Googled chain restaurants in the United States, which brought me to my rant about why I am not employed at Food Genius, and I researched chain restaurant menus for salad inspiration.
While Public House is certainly not a chain restaurant (in fact, I’m pretty sure there’s only one in Chicago), I feel like the menu and the overall quality of the food falls under the chain category… That isn’t to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself in the past at Public House while watching the Blackhawks game and munching on their Pulled Chicken salad. And before you go on and judge me for ordering a salad at a bar, I had come straight from Doughnut Vault, where I smashed six doughnuts with my girlfriend, so I was feeling the need for a little green and this salad spoke to me.
Pulled Chicken, Apple, Avocado, Dates, Fennel, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Cornbread Croutons, and Honey-Cilantro Vinaigrette. It was exactly the kind of summer salad inspiration I was searching for. Pure deliciousness. I decided against making homemade Cornbread Croutons when recreating this recipe at home to save myself some calories and time. But if you happen to have cornbread at home, I wouldn’t be above cubing and toasting it for croutons… Because really who can feel bad about eating a salad??? Except for Cheesecake Factory, that is.
Pulled Chicken Salad with Honey-Cilantro Vinaigrette by The Bite-Sized Baker:
For the salad:
4 cups salad mix
1 granny smith apple, cubed
1 avocado, cubed
2 rotisserie chicken breasts with skin removed, shredded using two forks
½ cup dates, chopped
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
For the vinaigrette:
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- For the salad, place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss everything together.
- For the vinaigrette, puree all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to your preferences. Pour over salad and serve immediately. Vinaigrette can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.
**Note: The pulled chicken pictured is from a Chipotle Pulled Chicken recipe I made. I wasn’t a huge fan of the chipotle chicken and salad flavor combination and would recommend using a rotisserie chicken for this salad!