Giant Dinner Salad

Giant dinner salad in a bowl

Giant Dinner Salads: if you know, you know. When the mood strikes, they can be your one-way ticket to total satisfaction, in a leafy-green kind of way. (Looking at you Charred Corn Salad and Steak and Apple Salad😘.) If you’re familiar with this blog at all though, you’re aware there will be more than just greens in this salad bowl. In my on-going saga of “more is always more”, we’re adding farro, cheese (Parmesan is good but manchego is great), smoked almonds, sliced pears, and dried cranberries to this towering pile of good-for-you greens. Also, this Giant Dinner Salad features thinly sliced chicken breast. But, you are welcome to leave that out for a meat-free situation and things will still be delicious.

Wow, wait. Can we talk about the dressing? Lemon juice, orange juice, shallots, garlic, honey mustard, and olive oil all combine for what might be literally the G.O.A.T. salad dressing. The idea of adding honey mustard (***and the whole inspiration for this salad, TBH!***) came from Susan Spungen’s cookbook Open Kitchen. Joey gave me this book for Christmas and I have been reaching for it several times a week since then . Every single recipe so far has been a hit. And it’s no wonder – the kale salad recipe that this Giant Dinner Salad is based on was featured in Bon Appetit! You can’t argue with a 4 1/2-star rating and 469 reviews (and counting).

giant dinner salad in a bowl

things to know about making a totally delicious, giant dinner salad

Before you turn yourself loose on a mountain of greens, cheese, nuts, and fruit, let’s go over a few things.

  1. Your food processor and its slicing blade are your friend when it comes to prepping kale for a salad. And don’t dismiss the importance of massaging the kale in step two. Even though those leafy greens are thinly sliced, they still need a little hands-on TLC. Here’s the food processor/slicing blade I’m talking about:
food processor with slicing blade

And here is the result: a compact bowl of perfectly-processed green goodness. Amazing.

sliced kale in a food processor

2. If you are going to include chicken in your Giant Dinner Salad, toss the chicken breasts in oil and a tasty seasoning of your choice, then bake them at 350 for 30 minutes. After you slice the chicken breasts, please please please toss the slices in the juices left behind on the pan. You will not regret this step:

roasted chicken on a sheet pan

3. While I don’t have an image for this third talking point, it is important. This Giant Dinner Salad features cooked farro, which is chewy, delicious, and quite good for you. According to Good Housekeeping, farro is a surprisingly impressive little nutrient-powerhouse. But, cooking it can be kind of a pain. (How does one not end up with gummy farro on the stovetop? Somebody please tell me.) On the other hand, you’ll have zero issues if you cook your farro in a rice cooker. <— I bought this one on Amazon and, while the instruction manual didn’t include any hints on how to cook farro, I’ve found the brown rice setting works like a charm. I will never, ever cook farro on the stovetop again. Mark my words.

4. (Cringing inside because a good list ends on an odd number but oh well.) You can make almost all of this salad ahead of time. See the notes in the recipe.

Friends, I feel like you have all the info you need to enter into Giant Dinner Salad greatness. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

giant dinner salad in a bowl

*This post and recipe contain Amazon Affiliate links to some of my kitchen ride-or-dies. A food processor, delicious smoky almonds, Montreal Steak Seasoning, and the rice cooker I never knew was missing from my life. Plus, the cookbook I’ve been obsessed with lately! If you click on these things and make a purchase, I may earn a commission.

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Giant Dinner Salad

One huge dinner salad packed with leafy greens (kale!), chicken, fruit, nuts, and cheese. What else do you need in life? A bright, citrusy dressing of course – and this salad has that, too! Bonus: You can do most of the work a day ahead.

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
Scale

Ingredients

for the dressing

  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS orange juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 TBS honey mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C olive oil

for the salad

  • 2 bunches of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped or one 10 oz bag of kale
  • 1 1/4 C cooked farro (see notes)
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled or baked in the oven (see notes), and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 C smoked, salted almonds, coarsely chopped (I used Blue Diamond brand – buy them on Amazon!), plus more for garnish
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced (substitute an apple, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 C grated manchego or parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Instructions

for the dressing

  1. Whisk together all ingredients, saving the olive oil for last – drizzle it in as you whisk. I used a large measuring cup for this so I could just measure as I went. Alternatively, just add all the ingredients to a mason jar and shake. 

for the salad

  1. Use a food processor with the slicing blade attached (see picture above) to chop the kale – just carefully push the chopped kale through the feeding tube. This is much easier and less messy than thinly slicing kale by hand!
  2. Transfer the kale to a large bowl and massage it with your hands for a minute or two. If you skip this step, your salad will be tough to chew. 
  3. Add the farro, chicken, nuts, pears, cranberries, and cheese to the kale, drizzle it all with the dressing and toss to coat. Garnish with some extra nuts, cranberries, and cheese and serve! (See notes about making the salad ahead of time – totally doable!)

Notes

  • The unofficial best way to cook farro is in a rice cooker on the brown rice setting. A rice cooker is the small appliance I never knew I needed – I use it at least once a week. You can make the farro for this salad a day or two ahead if you like. 
  • To cook chicken breasts in the oven, coat them olive oil or spritz with canola oil spray and season with your favorite seasoning (Montreal seasoning works perfectly), or just some salt and pepper. Then, roast them in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly, thinly slice them, and don’t forget to toss them in all those juices that collected on the pan. Obviously, you can do this ahead of time and any leftover chicken you have on hand will do, as well.
  • You can even make the salad part of this salad ahead if you want! It actually only gets tastier if you toss the kale, farro, and dried cranberries in the dressing and let it all sit overnight. Just add the chicken, smoked almonds, pears, and cheese before serving. 

Keywords: what to do with leftover farro, winter salad, grain salad, grain bowl, dinner salad, kale salad

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