Summer Chopped Chicken Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing / by Chelsea Zwieg

I love a good salad. Something about all my favorite veggies thrown together in a bowl with a really good dressing gets me all excited. And when those veggies are not just veggies but include things like watermelon and feta and the most addicting sweet/tangy balsamic pomegranate chicken ever, you better watch out. 

With all sorts of graduation parties/summer bbqs/Memorial Day parties/let's hang out outside because it's beautiful type gatherings coming up, it's always nice to have a few quick recipes ready to go for when you need to bring something other than your face to the party. And this salad should be at the top of the list. 

If you've never had pomegranate molasses, now is the time! It is basically a super reduced down pomegranate juice with a very concentrated tangy fruity flavor. It works great in salad dressings and sauces and it also makes a great marinade and glaze for meat. The chicken for this salad gets marinated in a balsamic/pomegranate/garlic combo and then brushed with a pomegranate and honey glaze towards the end of cooking. The sugars in the glaze caramelize a little bit and it is just so so good. I would guess that this chicken would also be really great on the grill or in grill pan where the glaze would be able to caramelize and char even more. 

The chicken then gets tossed into the salad along with all of the good salad things. Cucumber, red onion, avocado, cheese and, my very favorite, watermelon. I would like watermelon on all future salads, please and thank you.

Finally, it gets finished with a pomegranate molasses dressing. Since the molasses is on a tanginess level with vinegar it makes a great addition to a vinaigrette. I still add a splash of vinegar, to tone down the flavor just a touch, but the pomegranate molasses does most of the work. I also add some mustard and a little bit of honey for sweetness. I think I say this every time I make a new dressing, but it really is my new favorite. 

And I'd be willing to bet that when you show up to your summer pool/bbq/backyard party it might just be everyone else's favorite too. 

Summer Chopped Chicken Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing

| Ingredients | 

For the Pomegranate Chicken: 

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. honey

For the Pomegranate Molasses Dressing: 

  • 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. stone ground mustard (or dijon)
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup watermelon, diced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

| Instructions

  • In a large ziploc, combine balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, oil and garlic. Add chicken breasts and rub the marinade into the meat. Seal and let sit in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses and honey. Set aside. Place chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish. Bake 30-35 minutes, until cooked through. In the last 10 minutes of baking, brush chicken with the pomegranate honey mixture, coating both sides. Let cool and cut into bite size pieces.
  • To make the dressing, whisk the first four ingredients in a bowl. Slowly stream in the oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • In a large bowl, toss romaine with the cucumber, onion, avocado, watermelon, feta and chicken. Add dressing to taste or serve on the side. If you are not serving it immediately, it works best to arrange the ingredients on top of the lettuce, tossing at the last minute to avoid any sogginess.