I don’t often use the words “salad” and “addictive” in the same sentence, but this one kind of is. This Cheddar Chicken Salad w/ Honey Dijon Dressing is truly a family affair. Not only were several of my family members involved in its original creation and subsequent evolution, it is also one of the very few dishes that the entire family will eat – and I mean all ten of us. If the tender chicken doesn’t get you, the Honeycrisp apples will. If the apples don’t float your boat, the crispy, salty bacon or sharp cheddar will surely get your attention. There is something in this salad for everyone, and it will make you a big winner come dinner time.
I first sampled this Cheddar Chicken Salad w/ Honey Dijon Dressing at my sister’s home. My sister isn’t exactly known for her skills in the kitchen, so we all took a leap of faith when she said she was going to “cook” for us. This salad became her redemption dish! The combination of sweet and savory ingredients really worked, and I was happy to take a stab at the dressing. It had to be either sweet or creamy in order to get the rest of our family’s buy-in. Do you remember Catalina salad dressing? It was day-glow orange and grossly sweet? Yeah, that was my Dad’s favorite.
Dijon mustard is my go-to base for most dressings. It has a wonderful versatility and can lend a rich, silky texture to sauces and dressings without being actual cream or dairy. All it needs here is some raw honey, apple cider vinegar and oil to pull it together. Easy peasy.
My sister and I use turkey bacon in our versions of this salad, but you can certainly use whatever type you prefer. Any bacon is good bacon. Same goes for apples – I personally love the tartness of Granny Smith apples in this salad, but Honeycrisp apples seem to be more of a crowd pleaser. You should use whatever kind of apples you like – ’tis the season!
Speaking of crowds, when I serve this Cheddar Chicken Salad w/ Honey Dijon Dressing to the kids, they cringe at the kale, so I only use romaine for them. Obviously, play to your audience when it comes to the greens. I love kale for its super food status, and I find that Tuscan kale has a milder flavor and tastes great when mixed in with the romaine lettuce. Even so, kale is more of a “grown up” flavor, unless you’ve got really sophisticated kiddos.
One thing is for sure though – your kids will eat this salad! Here’s wishing you crowd-pleasing, successful weeknight cooking. Enjoy!
- 2 romaine hearts, chopped, rinsed and dried
- 1/2 head of Tuscan kale, chopped, rinsed and dried
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1-2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and cubed
- 8 strips of bacon, cooked and diced
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Slice the chicken breasts in half to make 2 thinner breasts of the same size. You’ll end up with 4 cutlets. Heat olive oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat, until the garlic starts to sizzle. Place chicken cutlets into the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until both sides are browned and the cutlets can be easily pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes each side. Remove onto a cutting board and slice into strips.
Whisk first 3 dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss together.