Strawberry-Basil Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese Balls Recipe

Ingredients

For the Chicken Salad:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 2 cups pre-cooked, shredded chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 9-10 ounces mixed greens

For the Fried Goat Cheese Balls:

  • 8 ounces goat cheese, plain or flavored
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs if not gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, crushed
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (or regular flour)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the Dressing (optional):

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Prepare the Chicken:

  • If using raw chicken: Preheat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let cool slightly, then shred or dice into bite-sized pieces.
  • If using pre-cooked chicken: Shred or dice the chicken.

2. Make the Goat Cheese Balls:

  • Slice the goat cheese log into 10-12 even rounds. Roll each round into a ball.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and water.
  • In another shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper.
  • In a third shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs and crushed almonds.
  • Dip each goat cheese ball into flour, then egg mixture, then breadcrumb mixture. Repeat coating in egg and breadcrumbs for a thicker crust.
  • Place coated balls on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

3. Fry the Goat Cheese Balls:

  • In a heavy-bottomed pot or deep fryer, heat enough oil to come 2-3 inches up the sides. Heat to 350-360°F.
  • Working in batches, carefully fry the goat cheese balls for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

4. Assemble the Salad:

  • In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, strawberries, basil, and almonds.
  • Add mixed greens and toss gently with your preferred amount of dressing (if using).
  • Top with warm goat cheese balls.

Dressing Instructions (if making):

  • Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey (if using), salt, and pepper.

Tips:

  • Make-ahead: Prepare the chicken and goat cheese balls a day in advance. Store the chicken in the refrigerator and the unfried goat cheese balls covered in the refrigerator.
  • No frying? Bake the goat cheese balls for a healthier option. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffed.
  • Flavor variations: Try different flavored goat cheese (like herbed) or add chopped pecans instead of almonds.

Enjoy this fresh and flavorful salad!

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