Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing – Updated

This salad is equal parts sweet and savory, and entirely delicious.

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Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

I know that some people automatically think of salads as being “sad desk lunches.” While this certainly can be true, this particular salad definitely does not conform to that stereotype.

This salad has a little bit of everything: fresh greens, sweet red grapes and blueberries, filling chicken, and a savory dressing. The sweet freshness of the salad and savory dressing play really well together. Plus, while it doesn’t have all of the colors of the rainbow, it’s also very colorful and pretty.

Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

Along these lines, I’ve shared a few savory-sweet salads with you in the past. See the Strawberry Pecan Salad with Beets, Watermelon Avocado Salad, or Strawberry Balsamic Salad for other delicious examples.

Sad desk lunch be gone!

Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

This salad is based on a recipe from Pinch of Yum. I blogged about it almost 3 years ago exactly (original post found here), but tinkered with the proportions for the dressing a little bit.

You’ll need:

For the salad (makes 1 salad) –

  • 2 oz. cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces (rotisserie chicken is a time-saver)
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup almonds, slivered or sliced
  • lettuces/greens of your choice (I used a combination of spring mix greens and baby arugula)

For the dressing (makes enough for 4-5 salads) –

  • 4 tbs almond butter (sub peanut butter if desired)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tbs water
  • 2 tbs stoneground mustard
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove

Assemble the salad in whatever vessel you choose. I prefer a bowl. Set it aside while you make the dressing.

Combine all dressing ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed.

Pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy.

Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing | A Nerd Cooks
Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

Strawberry Pecan Salad with Beets and Poppy Seed Dressing

This salad is fresh, delicious, and chock full of spring produce. It is topped with a tangy-sweet homemade poppy seed dressing.Strawberry Pecan Salad with Beets and Poppy Seed Dressing | A Nerd CooksSalad need not be boring.  Banish that notion from  your mind.  This salad–along with this Mediterranean Chopped Salad, Greek Power Bowl, and Strawberry Balsamic Salad–is proof.  #saddesklunch be gone!

For this little number, I loaded up some arugula and baby greens with lots of berries and roasted beets.  Then I added some crunchy toasted pecans and some salty feta cheese.  Top all of that with a tangy-sweet homemade poppy seed dressing, and you’re in business.

Strawberry Pecan Salad with Beets and Poppy Seed Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

For the dressing (makes enough for 4-5 salads)-

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 3 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbs poppy seeds
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad (makes 1 large salad)- 

  • 3 cups greens of choice (I used a spring mix and baby arugula)
  • fresh basil, sliced into thin strips
  • 5-6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup roasted beets
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients for the poppy seed dressing together.  Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired.  The dressing will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for ~5 days.  Set aside for a moment.

Add all of the salad ingredients to a bowl.  Drizzle with 1-2 tbs dressing.


Mediterranean Chopped Salad – Updated!

Mediterranean Chopped Salad | A Nerd CooksHaaaayyyy!  I’m clawing my way back from grant submission-induced online inactivity.

The first recipe I wanted to show you this week is this Mediterranean Chopped Salad, which I’ve been making for a few years now.

Don’t worry, we’ll be back to donuts and cookies soon enough.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad | A Nerd CooksNeed more salad action?  Check out this Greek Power Bowl, Strawberry Balsamic Salad, and Watermelon and Avocado Salad, to name just a few.

They, along with this chopped salad, are all light enough for the warmer weather, but still substantial enough to keep you going until dinner time.Mediterranean Chopped Salad | A Nerd Cooks

My original blog post for this salad can be found here.

You’ll need (makes ~4 salads):

For the salad – 

  • 1 medium English cucumber
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 14 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4-5 cups lettuces of choice (I like baby arugula and a spring mix)

For the vinaigrette – 

  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper

Cut the English cucumber in half, lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.  This will keep your salad from getting watery and soggy as it sits in the fridge.  Cut each cucumber half into thirds, and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Add the cucumber to a large bowl along with the halved tomatoes, chick peas, chopped olives, crumbled feta, and greens.  Toss everything together.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the proportions to your liking.  I’m a big fan of super vinegary and sour, pucker-inducing flavors, but you do you.

Don’t add the vinaigrette to the salad until you’re ready to eat.

Want to make this salad even more filling?  Throw some avocado or baked falafel on top.  You can’t go wrong.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Farro Caprese Salad

This farro caprese salad is fresh and summery: perfect for upcoming warmer weather.Farro Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Farro is, hands down, my new favorite grain.  It’s an ancient grain that’s roughly nutritionally equivalent to quinoa. However, I find its chewy texture to be much more interesting.  It’s kind of nutty, and is great in salads.  I can’t lie, I even ate it as a hot breakfast cereal one morning with some brown sugar and cinnamon.  Pretty tasty.Farro Caprese Salad | A Nerd CooksThough you could definitely make this salad any time of the year, Caprese anything screams “summer” to me.  This salad is doubly summery, to me, with the addition of baby arugula.

I’ve made this to take to work all week for my lunch, but this would also be perfect for cookouts and BBQs, or as a side dish for dinner.Farro Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

This salad is inspired by one that I saw on Pastiche.

You’ll need:

  • 14 oz. bag Italian pearled farro
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby arugula
  • 1.5 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place the farro and water in a medium-sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain the remaining water from the pot, add the olive oil and salt, and toss to combine.  Allow the farro to cool to room temperature.

Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and arugula to the cooled farro.  Toss everything together.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Pour over the farro and toss to coat everything evenly.

This can be eaten cold, at room temperature, or warm (think melty strings of mozzarella).

Farro Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks


Greek Power Bowl

This salad has just about all of the bases covered: creamy, crunchy, savory, tangy, filling but not too heavy. It will fill you up and keep you powered until dinner time!
Greek Power Bowl | A Nerd Cooks

One of the things that I really like about this salad (I mean, besides all of the amazing toppings) is that I use shredded Brussels sprouts as a part of the salad base!  Just trim the stem off of your sprouts, remove the tough outer leaves, and pass them through your food processor, using the shredding disk.  Toss them in with whatever other salad greens you’d like to use.  Trust me, you want to try it.

All in all, it’s a pretty healthy salad.  The hummus might add some calories, but the tzatziki is guilt-free as long as you use 0% Greek yogurt.

You’ll need (makes 1 large salad):

  • 2-3 cups greens (I used baby kales, arugula, and shredded Brussels sprouts)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/8 cup feta cheese
  • 3 falafel (the Internet tells me that this is also the plural form of the word)
  • 2-3 tbs hummus
  • 2-3 tbs tzatziki sauce

Add the greens, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta, and falafel to a bowl.  Top with hummus and tzatziki.  Enjoy!

Greek Power Bowl | A Nerd Cooks

Watermelon and Avocado Salad

Watermelon and Avocado Salad | A Nerd Cooks

After getting my first taste of balsamic vinegar on watermelon in the Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad that I made a little while back, I was hooked.  There’s such a delicious contrast of flavors going on – sweet vs. tart.

I knew that I couldn’t stop there.

We got our first good watermelon recently, and I couldn’t help but cube it up and toss it into a salad, add some avocado, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

If you haven’t tried this flavor combination before, wait no longer, and let this be a gentle introduction!Watermelon and Avocado Salad | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need (makes 2 side salads or one large main dish salad):

  • 2-3 cups greens (I used arugula)
  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 1-2 oz. feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • balsamic vinegar and olive oil

This is super simple.  Ready?

Toss all ingredients, except for vinegar and oil, together in a bowl or on a plate.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Or, if you’re like me and are really into sour/tart flavors, just go with balsamic vinegar only.

This salad is so light and refreshing, yet pretty substantial thanks to the addition of avocado.

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of the summer months.  The heat, the humidity, the presence of lots of insects…  Shudder.

I am, however, a huge fan of summer produce.

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Caprese salads (and all things Caprese, really) are my jam.  You’ve seen me blog about chunky Caprese salad, and then Caprese salad pasta, Caprese salad skewers, and most recently, strawberry Caprese salad.

Like so many of my posts, this one was inspired by Joy the Baker.  She blogged about Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad recently, and I couldn’t wait to put my spin on it.

You’ll need:

  • watermelon, sliced
  • heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • nectarines, sliced
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil

Arrange the watermelon, tomatoes, nectarines, and mozzarella on a platter or in a dish.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and top with fresh basil.

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks