What’s in a name?
It wasn’t easy coming up with a name for this salad. For easy reference (especially in searches), I like naming my recipes using the key ingredients. Makes sense, right? However, this time that wasn’t going to work! Strawberry Mango Kiwi Chicken Spinach with Fresh Ginger Mint Lime Dressing. Salad is NOT a good name. Although, I did consider it! When I realized the name was too long, I looked at how I could shorten it. But I couldn’t decide which fruit to eliminate from the title. All of these fruits are delicious and add their unique flavor, texture, and color. No, it was either all or nothing. That’s when I looked for the commonality. Two common traits surfaced; The first was that these fruits needed using before they over-ripened. The second common trait was they are all summer fruits. Hmm, Fruit Bin Chicken Spinach Salad or Summer Chicken Spinach Salad? Enough said!
It’s all about the fruit
I’d love to tell you that I chose strawberries, mango, and kiwi for this salad because the unique flavor of each fruit so exquisitely compliments the other flavors that the combination takes on its own profile. But, it’s not exactly the truth. They do taste great together, and the red, green, and orange colors compliment each other, but the real reason is that I had them on hand and needed to use them. Any fresh summer fruit will be delicious in this salad.
I’m looking forward to making it with peaches, blueberries, and melon. Ideally, you want three colors, but that’s more for eye appeal.
Hints & Hacks
The most effort required for this dish is prepping the fruit into bite-size pieces. The kiwi requires peeling before chopping. There is a very cool and easy way to skin a kiwi with a dessert spoon (I learned it on YouTube!) Using a sharp knife, cut off the ends and insert the spoon. Push the spoon against the side of the skin and move it around the kiwi. The kiwi will easily slide out. The mango doesn’t need to peel before you cut it open. Stand the mango up and slice off the cheeks of the fruit. Score the sections in a checkerboard pattern and push out the center to pop out the sections like a porcupine. Using a sharp knife, slide down along the skin, separating the fruit from the peel. The strawberries need to be cut in half or quarters, depending on size.
The mint, ginger, and lime for the dressing need a little prep too. A salad spinner works great for cleaning fresh mint. I roll up the mint leaves like a cigar and finely slice. If needed, give the slices them a fine chop. I keep fresh ginger in my freezer. I don’t use it often, but when it’s needed, I always have it. A spoon does easy work out of peeling the ginger, and a vegetable grater or zester is a lot easier than trying to mince it finely. The lime also gets zested and then juiced (in that order!).
Making the easy salad dressing
The dressing is speedy and easy with the prepped fresh ingredients. The mayo, lime juice, zest, grated ginger, and mint are whisked together until well combined. A taste test will indicate if and how much salt and pepper are needed—season to taste.
Baby spinach is always my preference, at least when it’s on sale! The smaller leaves are more tender and have a sweeter flavor than mature spinach. I buy the pre-washed and trimmed packages to save time. However, I still have to cut off the stems. I don’t like spinach stems in my salad, although they are editable.
I’ve been so focused on the fruit; I haven’t even mentioned the chicken! This recipe is for using up left-over chicken (like I had) or a store-bought rotisserie chicken. You could even use canned chicken if you wanted. The idea behind a salad for dinner is NOT having to turn on the oven! The chicken needs to be cut up into pieces or shredded. Your preference!
Bringing it all together
Something crunchy is always fun in a salad. I choose dry-roasted peanuts (because I had them in my pantry), which are great in salads. Dry-roasted cashews would also be delicious.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, fruit, and chicken.
Pour on the dressing and stir to cover all the spinach leaves. Stir in the peanuts. The salad can be served immediately or chilled for an hour or so. If desired, garnish with a fresh strawberry. Enjoy!
Summer Chicken Spinach SaladCourse: Salad, Main, LunchCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Fresh fruit becomes the main course when combined with fresh spinach and peanuts in this delicious summer salad tossed with a ginger, mint, and lime dressing.
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced & zested (2 tablespoon juice, 2 teaspoons zest)
2 cups cooked chopped or shredded chicken
1 large mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 kiwi, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon sliced fresh mint
5 oz baby spinach (approx. 5 cups)
1 /4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
Salt & pepper – to taste
- Prep: Peel and grate fresh ginger, zest and juice lime, cube mango and kiwi. Chop fresh mint. Wash and trim spinach.
- In a Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together mayo, ginger, lime juice & zest, and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Place the spinach and fruit in a large bowl, gently combine. Add the dressing and mix until spinach is completely coated. Mix in the chicken and peanuts. Serve immediately or chill for an hour.
- Chicken: Use store-bought rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, or canned chicken
- Fruit: Substitute the mango, kiwi and strawberries for any three summer fruits (blue berries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, melon)
- Ginger: Fresh is best, however if not available substitute ½ teaspoon ground ginger