Momma Told Me: A #FreshExpress Escape: Strawberry Fields Salad with Chicken Recipe

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A #FreshExpress Escape: Strawberry Fields Salad with Chicken Recipe

lettuce greens
Momma Told Me: Eat your greens!

Raise your hands if you were a picky eater as a child; then keep those hands up if you still are today.

There's no argument that one of the toughest areas of childhood nutrition often falls on the topic of produce. Fruits and Vegetables are among the most important of tiers on the American food pyramid, and yet it seems as though the most consumed tier hovers closer to Saturated Fats and Sugars. When I was a young girl there were 3 main reasons for me to turn down my vegetables; 1.) the ingredient in question had already been pre-defined as a 'vegetable', thus giving it a stigma, 2.) the ingredient in question had a very distinct taste I did not care for (an example for me being, peas), and 3.) the ingredient itself has no discernible flavor, thus not purpose inside my mouth. Unfortunately for Momma, every vegetable and green, aside form carrots with peanut butter, fell into one of those 3 categories. Pop would kneel there, by the living room table where I'd eat, and place plea bargain (Hershey's) Kisses before me. One bite of the 'objectionable', one kiss for dessert. Some days it would be TV time for bites completed, nearly every day it would be one bargain or another.
bagged greens
Next to peas (it's a long story involving a tale my mother has told to every guy I've brought home upon introductions), leafy greens were my least favorite vegetable. The only time I could reason eating lettuce is if it were drowned in more cheese and dressing than leaves on my plate. There was something in the back of my head equating salad to that of bunny food, and I would simply have none of it. It just so happened Momma wouldn't, either, as she eventually fell into a lull of salads as sides, somewhere around my 10th birthday. By this age I had weakened a little in resolve. It seemed less effort to consume what was put before me than hold a defiant front against my parents. I had also discovered bagged greens and salad kits. Momma found, when she let me pick the vegetable sides, I was more likely to eat them- and oh how I fell in love with a 'Double Carrots' blend of bagged salad! Since then, I've found many more reasons to purchase bagged greens; and keep them stocked in my home today.
My favorite brand of bagged greens is Fresh Express for it's local (to me) roots dating back to the 1930s Salinas Valley produce industry. It might make me a bit of a nerd to confess my love for this brand only intensified after their appearance on Undercover Boss. If you love educational insights shows like Dirty Jobs and Undercover Boss, you get the fascination with taking a peak behind your favorite products and services. While I won't bore you with the details of how these bagged greens arrive at your local produce department, I will declare that I feel confident as a consumer in the quality and commitment behind each one. Unlike other brands of bagged greens, I've had negative experiences with before, Fresh Express proudly displays their 'Guaranteed Fresh By' date, so I know what's inside is the freshest possible. And, not only do I save money forgoing wasted and unused produce, by buying bagged greens, it's incredibly convenient to have fresh greens and salads on hand for cooking and snacking. That's right, the other half loves to take a bag of Baby Spinach to work to munch on!
There's no telling how much time I've saved through the years, or how many nutrients I wouldn't have consumed, if it weren't for these handy pouches of fresh produce. Getting everyone together to eat on time is often a challenge. Thanks to the large variety of Salad Kits and Bagged Salads #FreshExpress has to offer, I can be confident I'll always have a balanced meal, even in a pinch. It's no exaggeration that I eat more greens on a whim than I ever did with a head of lettuce banging around the fridge green bin. And, whether I'm buying bagged loose greens, or an entire salad, Fresh Express saves me valuable time rinsing, sorting, and cutting those greens! I keep both kits and bagged greens 'in stock' at home- especially when it comes to Spinach, which never goes to waste. If I don't turn it into a delicious salad, or Jeremy doesn't munch on it all, I know I can toss wilting leaves into a Spinach Dip or Stir Fry in no time. Unfortunately, I often have to buy extra bags for cooking purposes because we they never last long enough in our home to even begin wilting!
One of my favorite simple lunch recipes includes Fresh Express Baby Spinach and 50/50 Lettuce Mix; Strawberry Fields Salad. The 50/50 Lettuce mix is not always in stock local to me, but a great find when it is as it contains a Spring Leaf Blend and  Spinach for a leafy greens mixture that compliments sweeter salads. I should note that I could pay near $18 for this 'seasonal' salad at a local restaurant, while I can always make it at home for a fraction of the price. Those even more strapped for time, or less 'recipe' inclined should also check out the brand's Strawberry Fields Salad Kit for a similarly inspired flavor profile. My simple recipe relies on a few ordinary ingredients many have already at home, or can easily pick up during a routine grocery trip. While assembling the salad itself is the fun part, I always suggest to make the full recipe for this Strawberry Balsamic Dressing, because it disappears fast. I have to hide my leftover dressing, because it always ends up drizzled on everything from protein to ice cream!  Note the Sugar can be substituted entirely by doubling the yogurt, and Light or No Fat Yogurt is certainly a valid substitution as well. I've seen some variations include Poppy Seeds for texture, but I've been making my recipe for years without them, and have yet to hear any complaints.
Strawberry Balsamic Dressing


*1 Package of Thawed Strawberries (16oz) or 2 1/2-3 C of Fresh Sliced Strawberries
*6 TBS Lemon Juice
*1/4 C Sugar, or Sugar Substitute (see above)
*2 TBS Virgin Olive Oil
*1 6oz Cup of Original Vanilla Yogurt


1.)Puree strawberries in blender/processor, until smoothe.
2.) Add Lemon Juice, Sugar, and Yogurt. Process until evenly blended.
3.) Introduce Oil and Vinegar Slowly, allowing pauses to blend. This will help combine the ingredients and thicken the texture of the dressing.

Refrigerate until use. Yield: 2.5-3 Cups
Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields Salad with Chicken


*Fresh Express Baby Spinach and 50/50 Blend
*Fresh Sliced Strawberries
*Crumbled Feta Cheese
*Grated Parmesan Cheese
*Sliced Chicken Breast
*Strawberry Balsamic Dressing (See recipe above)
*Candied Pecans (optional)


Layer the ingredients beginning with a light drizzle of dressing on your plate. Scatter a thin layer of Baby Spinach and 50/50, where Baby Spinach is predominant. Crumble Feta and sprinkle Parmesan lightly. Add a layer of thinly sliced strawberries, with a light drizzle of dressing, add candied pecans if desired, and repeat. Top second tier with thinly sliced Chicken Breast. Serve with a carafe of chilled Strawberry Balsamic Dressing. Enjoy!
A few notes about the Strawberry Fields Salad pictured above;

It's my experience that plating this salad, rather than serving it in a bowl offers better display and more uniform consumption. On a plate the layers can be wider, and thin, so the various chunky elements (pecans/feta) don't end up pooling at the bottom of a bowl. I layer the dressing lightly, beginning with the plate so the greens can be swiped across, for a hint of flavor, during consumption. The tartness of the dressing will vary depending on the ripeness of the berries used. For a naturally sweeter dressing frozen berries will do, if you prefer a tarter experience select lighter berries from local produce. To save time I purchase pre-cooked chicken breasts, which also allows me to control the thickness of the slices (as opposed to pre-sliced lunch meat packs). Do not top the salad with warm chicken; if you are cooking your own chicken breasts be sure to allow them time to chill prior to plating, or you will wilt the spinach! If you try the recipe out at home, be sure to come back and tell me about it! For more on my Strawberry Fields Salad, and to take a peek behind the scenes of this post, visit my Google+ album.

What Daughter Says: Thanks to the convenience of freshly bagged greens I can enjoy added nutrition, and additional savings- I no longer fuss over my veggies.

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and  #CBias #SocialFabric.


Still Blonde after all these YEARS said...

Your camera angles are wonderful, makes me want to run out and buy a bag of Fresh Express. I had to laugh about your vegetable eating (or non-eating youth). Thanks for all the tips of the salad preparation too.

Lena B said...

this salad looks delish

Debi Gerhart said...

I was really picky as a kid, but not anymore. This looks really good.

Felissa Hadas said...

I was pretty much a vegetarian growing up (we ate red meat until I was 5 and then I decided I didn't like Turkey after I got braces). In our house there was no force feeding or pleading for eating our vegetables.

My mother thinks it is funny that it is my sister and I who have gotten her to eat Brussel Sprouts. She was forced to eat boiled goss ones as a kid and so we never had them in the house. I never even tasted one until I was in college.

Amanda T said...

Now that is a beautiful salad! Awesome job - I love how colorful it is, and the dressing sounds amazing.

Sandy a la Mode said...

this sounds and looks AMAZING!!!

MikiHope said...

I have always been a veggie eater-possibly because I could wander in my grandparents veggie garden and pick a string bean etc and eat it on the spot!! Now that I am an adult-I actually eat less veggies--but I do buy Fresh Express bagged salad greens all the time!! Such a time saver and much easier for a single person!

Dad of Divas said...

Looks amazing - healthy and delicious too...what more could I ask for!

Suburban Style Challenge said...

This sounds fantastic, and perfect for summer! Pinned so I can remember... I may even make a huge bowl for a pot luck event at work.

mglawler said...

That looks delicious!

Judy Haughton-James said...

Wow! This looks so good. I did not like vegetables as a child but happily I eat a lot more vegetables now. My favourite is a cabbage and carrot salad. I am a big chicken fan so I am sure I would enjoy this recipe. Very interesting post. I am a new Follower of your Blog. I saw your post in Thirsty For Comments Thursday. Enjoy the rest of your week.
Judy - Judy H-J's Thoughts

Wayne W Smith said...

I am making this for one of my lunches next week.

barkergirl33 said...

I am have to try this, i'm shopping Sunday so I'll get what I need. I never would have thought that combo of ingredients would sound so good together. I'm bad with my greens too-the bag salad mixes make a huge difference. Great post! (Raine on RCs)

Ashley Nolan said...

Looks very healthy and yummy, gonna have to make a nice salad for lunch!

Helena Lemon said...

I have never minded vegetables, but now I love them and the salad looks delicious, as does the dressing! I hope you don't mind that I pinned it here! Thanks!

Jackie said...

This salad looks delicious! and I love the recipe for the dressing. My daughter would really enjoy it too. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Danielle Royalegacy said...

That is a yummy looking salad. Fresh Express does have some very good salad blends.

Rusthawk said...

I love Fresh Express spinach and use it often. Now I have a new recipe to try out! Looks great!

darlene miller said...

i love fresh express salads,i buy all the time. its really time saving and i dont waste a whole head of lettuce.

Jenna Wood said...

@Darlene, I hate throwing out heads of lettuce, especially iceburg which can turn that rusty color so quick!

@Jackie, the dressing is great just to have on hand, it goes wonderful with a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream, but is not too sweet to compliment the darker greens in this recipe. Best of all, when you make it at home you can adjust the acidity.

ann said...

I love to eat salads and these recipes are delicious looking. I buy Fresh Express salads alot. Nothing healthier than a good salad

June M. said...

I swear I could about eat salads every day and I love the convenience of Fresh Express! Unfortunately, I have to take blood thinners so I have to limit my Vitamin K though :(

Mer said...

Yum! I love bagged salads as it's so easy to remember to eat my greens.

Nancy said...

This would be fun to have at a ladies luncheon or as a salad on Valentine's Day!

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Nancy said...

This would be fun to have at a ladies luncheon or as a salad on Valentine's Day!

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Sacha Schroeder said...

This looks wonderful!

Eileen said...

I am sending this to my 13 year old daughter. She loves feta, strawberries, and all the rest. We do spinach salads by Express but the dressing recipe is a new one for us. LOVE for summer especially! thanks!

I was not a picky eater as a kid, we lived on a farm and with 9 kids you were NOT picky, you ate and ate FAST! LOL! Now I am more picky though. My kids are not at ALL and try more new things than me or husband will!

ejrichter60 at gmail dot com

meegan whitford said...

this looks very good unfortunately i do not like strawberries but i think the rest of my family would eat it!

cathy henatyszen said...

we use Fresh Express all year round... nice products, well worth buying

Salleefur/Jesselyn/Jesster said...

We love Fresh Express! I don't know how we lived before without it. They have so many wonderful salad / lettuce blend plus salad Spinach - as well as Cole Slaw and even shredded lettuce for Tacos/Tostadas.

They are not only a real time saver - when you look at the blends and complete salad bags - they are actually a money saver too. When they are on sale at the market - we eats salads for most of our meals!

Thanks (P.S. our salads always taste great but would probably LOOK better on your plates/dishes!

Jesselyn A/Jesstinger

Darlene ysaguirre said...

I love Fresh Express Salads They Always have great coupons for their products

Marlys Folly said...

This looks delicious. Found you over at Food Holiday Link Party.