Balsamic Strawberry and Smoked Chicken Salad

Today was one of those “All-Seasons-in-One-Day” type of days. It started out as grey and misty, with light tiny rain drops that you can’t quite decide if it’s rain or mist, but you are absolutely grateful for and not at all annoyed about getting slightly wet as the heat and humidity is enough to frizz any hair style. As the mist cleared later in the day and Auckland put on a spectacularly beautiful sunfest, I got a bit too much sun and now look like I’m wearing a t-shirt even when in the shower! But no matter, it will fade soon but the overwhelming feeling I will keep with me was one of happiness and nostalgia.

Balsamic Strawberry and Smoked Chicken Salad

A very good friend back in South Africa got married yesterday. I’ve known him since I was a little girl and he always seemed to be part of our family. Another “Uncle”. But then he introduced me to my husband way back when and he suddenly became more of a friend than an Uncle. All of a sudden we were all grown-ups and we had the party of parties at his home back in 1995 during the Rugby World Cup when South Africa triumphed over the mighty All Blacks in front of a home crowd with Madiba wearing the Springbok jersey. The cars in the streets, with both young and old flying flags out the windows, hooting and tooting, everyone celebrating! Many may remember the day while others will have seen it in the movie Invictus, and others reading this may not have a clue what I’m talking about…but no matter.

Our dear friend is one of life’s hard workers and Angels that looks after everyone else. We honestly thought that he was going to spend the rest of his days on his own and we have often thought what a waste of a wonderful human spirit that would be. Until he found his ‘special one’ and their friendship blossomed into that special something that I wish more people could be blessed to share in when it seems you’ve found your other half. Sadly, my nostalgia was caused by the fact that we couldn’t be with him on this very special day but were celebrating in spirit from a half a world away. In honour of love, summer and all things delicious, I decided to make one of my favourite salads as it was way too hot to cook and I always think strawberries look like little red hearts and as it is February, the month of Love, it seemed fitting.

As strawberry season is coming to an end now, I’d suggest making this salad earlier on in the season when the strawberries are large, ripe and juicy as these ones were a bit small, but delicious none the less. Served with a fresh loaf of crusty bread, this light dinner or lunch always delights all who get to partake. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for the recipe, so now you get to enjoy it too!

ingredients:

250 g punnet strawberries, hulled and quartered
¼ cup white or brown balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar will also work)
1 smoked chicken breast, skin removed (I use 2 as a little extra chicken can’t be wrong :))
½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 spring onions, chopped
2 cups mixed lettuce leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp runny honey

  1. Toss strawberries in vinegar and stand for 10 mins; drain and reserve vinegar.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients and refrigerate (except the dressing).
  3. Mix the reserved vinegar with the oil and honey and pour over the salad just before serving.

Enjoy!
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