Lemony Chicken and Kale Salad


Lemon loaded dressing spiked with garlic and honey. Shredded chicken. Refreshing cucumber. Tangy artichoke hearts. Unctious feta. Crispy garbanzo beans. Nutrient-packed kale. Want to just jump to the recipe? Do so here. 

Lemony Chicken and Kale Salad

On the last day of June I woke up on Lopez Island with the sky turning from slate to wispy grey. By my bed was a portable heater, like the kind I had in college that tinkers slightly in a gentle strum. Beyond the windows, in the fir trees and the fruit trees and the sweet little gardens, birds called one after another after another.

A fat raccoon ambled through the yard. He stopped every few steps and looked around. We had a short telepathic convo about full bellies and beautiful rolling grassland by the sea. The air smelled like salt. And grass. And wet leaves. And coffee.

Because what would a morning in a white bed, surrounded by milky white walls and the sweetest little antique chair you ever did see be without coffee? (Incomplete. Obviously.) There was a window over the bed and a mirror in front. It gave me a view of my morning eyes and the trees behind.

Oyster Picnic

I was staying in a house I’d never seen (it had delicious views), with three women I’d never met (we asked all the questions – we drank all the wine), on an island I’d never visited. (I’ll be back. Oh, Lopez, I’ll be back indeed.)

We were just under two miles from Fisherman’s Bay Marina and just under three from Lopez Village. The spot was a good one to be sure. It was the kind of house the squad could come for New Years with a big open living space, multiple bedrooms, and easy access to the ocean for a New Year’s day dip. You know, if you’re crazy and into that kind of thing.

sailboat

But, it’d also be the kind of place a family would love, with bunnies running through the grass and a BBQ on the deck. I’m always impressed by Airbnbs that have well-stocked kitchens and plenty of blankets for the bed.

Yesterday the gal-pal tribe arrived by sailboat, one of the many amazing parts of the itinerary The Isla de Vida Group planned. (Co-founded by Lopez Island native Sarah Shaefer and long-time Orcas Island resident Taryn Hall, this boutique travel concierge plans everything from extravagant bucket list adventures to affordable one-day itineraries.)

We shucked oysters by the bay and hiked to see falls. We ate freshly baked pastries and visited local artisans. We had the most exquisite chocolate and toured local farms. We stayed in rooms with large sliding glass doors that opened to the sea and sampled wine loaded with complexity. There were sea-to-table and farm-to-table dinners. There were picnic lunches that could have been plucked from Food & Wine.

cinnamon roll

We visited boutiques. I spent two-and-half sweet little days relishing the chance to meet one of my favorite bloggers – Portia Smith from Obsessed by Portia. This woman is the kind of #bosslady rock star who inspires you to pull up your big girl pants and get shit done.

And, I somehow managed to walk 10,000+ steps every day. (Go team!)

But the reality is, a woman can only eat so many pastries, drink so many glasses of wine, and nosh on so many oysters before her pants demand she nosh on some salad. The following is one of the many kale renditions we’ve had as of late. It’s bright and fresh and oh so green, which makes me feel healthy.

P.S. Get the inside scoop on where to go and what to eat over on the Kenmore Air blog. Portia shared the goods, the get-into-my-belly kind of goods.

P.P.S. Keep an eye out for the goodness that is udon on Lopez Island.

Lemony Chicken and Kale Salad

Serves 6

Kale’s no everyone’s favorite. I get it. It’s often bitter and tough. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I happen to think kale’s sturdiness makes it a rock star when it comes to make-ahead lunches.

The following is one of our recent kale salad renditions. I prep all of Garrett’s lunches (and some of mine, depending on how many leftovers we’ll have throughout the week) on Sunday. The spice level of this salad can be adjusted as desired. So too can the unctuous level. (Garrett likes a heavy hand when it comes to his cheese.)

Also note, if you plan to eat this salad right away, spending longer tossing the salad. This will massage the kale, helping to break it down and make it more pleasant.

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, washed and drained
3 TBS olive oil
1 TBS red chili pepper flakes (optional, adjust as desired)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 large chicken breasts, shredded
1 bunch kale, chopped (about 5 chopped cups)
1 14.5-ounce can artichoke quarters packed in water, drained and chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled at ¼ intervals, seeded, and chopped
6 ounces feta

Preheat oven to 375. (On really hot days, I like to use my toaster oven.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add garbanzo beans, 3 TBS olive oil, red chili pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to thoroughly coat. Bake for 30 minutes, shaking every 10 minutes, until beans are crisp and golden. Allow to cool completely.

In a large bowl (I like to use a roasting pan), combine chicken, kale, artichoke hearts, and cucumbers. Add dressing (see recipe below) gradually, tossing with each addition until contents are lightly coated. If you have extra dressing, cover and refrigerate for later to use on another salad or as a marinade.

Evenly distribute salad between six containers. Evenly distribute cooled garbanzo beans. Top each salad with 1-ounce feta. Enjoy immediately or throughout the week.

Dressing

1 tsp grated lemon rind
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1 TBS honey
2 TBS garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a medium glass. Whisk until thoroughly combined.


About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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