Everything-Grilled Chicken Salad

This is not the typical grilled chicken salad that you might order from a deli for lunch.  As the name suggests, everything is grilled in this – not just the chicken, but the lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and corn.  You could even make your own croutons on the grill, although I haven’t been that ambitious yet.  Because grilling the vegetables gives such a deep layer of flavors, I prefer little to no dressing on this, but I think a light vinaigrette would be great.  Or go all out and do a blue cheese (but then omit the cheese in the salad).   The quantities of ingredients are pretty wishy-washy – it really is just about what you like.   And feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand – mushrooms would be great in here, and so would zucchini – this is just the basic starting point for us.  Then we add in with whatever’s handy.   I also marinate the chicken overnight but if you forget to do that, make the chicken however you would normally grill it – it will still taste great. 

 Ingredients:

 4 chicken breasts
2 heads of romaine lettuce
6 tomatoes
1 large red onion
2-3 ears of corn, husk removed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Croutons (optional)
Cheese of your choice (optional) – I love it with feta

 Directions:

Note: I’ve given the directions for grilling each of these ingredients separately because I think it’s just easier to read.  Obviously that would take a lot longer to cook that way.  I usually throw the chicken on the grill first and then start prepping the vegetables.  I get them all lined up on a baking sheet and then add them in the following order:  corn, onion, tomato, lettuce. 

 Chicken:

  • Place the chicken breasts in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and add the crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, a healthy shake of salt and pepper, and about a 1/8 – 1/4 cup of olive oil.  If you want to add any other seasonings, feel free.  Oregano, Cajun spices, etc. can all be great.  
  • Close the bag and give it a good shake and let it sit in the fridge for up to a day. 
  • Grill the chicken breasts over medium heat for 8-12 minutes (depending on how thick the chicken is) and then flip, grilling the other side for an additional 8 minutes or so.
  • Grill until the chicken is cooked through (should be 170 degrees)

 Corn:

  • Remove the husks and silk from the corn.
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Grill over medium heat, 6-8 minutes, rotating every few minutes to get it all lightly browned (you can alternatively grill it with the husks on, after soaking the husks for 10 minutes and grilling for about 20 minutes).
  • Allow the corn to cool for a few minutes.
  • Cut the tip off the tip of the corn cob and then stand the corn up on a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to carefully cut all the kernels from the cob.  Click here for some tips on doing this.

 Red Onion:

  • Peel the onion and slice it into ¾ inch thick rounds. 
  • To keep the rounds together and prevent them from falling into the grill, you can stick a skewer through them or use a grill basket.
  • Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Grill over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, then flip and grill for another 3-4 minutes. 

 Romaine Lettuce:

  • Wash the lettuce, dry it well with paper towels (don’t use the salad spinner!) and cut it in half – lengthwise, leaving the base attached so the leaves don’t fall off. 
  • Use a pastry brush to lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the lettuce.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.   
  • Grill over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then flip and grill for another 2-3 minutes. 

 Tomatoes:

  • After removing the stems of the tomatoes, cut them in half. 
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Grill over medium heat, cut side down, for 3-4 minutes.  Flip and grill an additional 2-3 minutes. 

 Once everything is grilled, you can either assemble each salad on a plate, deconstructed style (leaving everything whole), or you can chop them all up on a cutting board and add it to one big bowl.  Either way works fine – then top with cheese, dressing, and croutons.

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