When you live in really hot climates, such as Texas (where we are 'enjoying' record high temps already in May 2018!), heavy stove-top-cooked meals just don't fit the bill. This salad is hearty enough to please everyone but still light enough that you won't feel like a Thanksgiving turkey.
Of course, feel free to tailor this salad to your tastes by subbing pork loin or shrimp for the chicken, other stone fruit such as plums or peaches for the nectarines, etc. —gr8chefmb
WATERMELON PICKLED PEPPER VINAIGRETTE
fresh watermelon juice *[see note below]
white wine vinegar
fresh jalapenos, thinly slice crosswise [use mandolin if you have one]
extra virgin olive oil
coarse ground salt
coarse ground pepper
GRILLED CHICKEN 'n FRUIT SALAD
boneless skinless chicken thighs
fresh ripe nectarines, halved and pitted
mixed salad greens
radishes, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
green onions, thinly sliced
frozen green peas, thawed to room temperature
* NOTE: If you do not have a juicer, use a wooden spoon or metal ladle to press cut watermelon pieces through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup or bowl to catch juice. Discard solids.
Place 3 cups of watermelon juice, vinegar and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add jalapeno and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 5 to 15 minutes, or just until liquid reduces by half. Drain peppers, reserving cooking liquid, and cool to room temperature.
Whisk together cooled pepper cooking liquid, remaining watermelon juice, olive oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper until well mixed. Stir in pickled jalapeno.
GRILLED CHICKEN 'n FRUIT SALAD
Place chicken thighs between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper and use smooth side of meat mallet to pound chicken to half its thickness. Place chicken in 2-gallon zip-top storage bag along with 1/3 of WATERMELON PICKLED PEPPER VINAIGRETTE. Seal bag, squeezing out as much as air as possible, and let chicken marinate while preparing grill.
Place chicken on grill and cook for 3-5 minutes per side over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and tent with foil; let chicken rest while rest of salad is being prepared.
Brush cut sides of nectarines with bit of remaining WATERMELON PICKLED PEPPER VINAIGRETTE. Place cut side down on hot grill and grill for 1-2 minutes, or just until slightly softened with visible grill marks. Flip fruit over and grill for additional 1-2 minutes. Remove fruit from heat and cut into thin wedges, then cut each wedge in half crosswise. Place in a large salad bowl.
Add the salad greens, radishes, green onions, peas, melon balls, and half of remaining WATERMELON PICKLED PEPPER VINAIGRETTE; toss to coat. Divide salad between eight plates. Cut chicken into slices and top salad greens. Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles and walnuts over salads. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately.
NOTE: The vinaigrette can be made up to 2 days ahead; store in fridge in a tightly sealed jar.
The salad can be mixed up 3 hours ahead, but wait to dress it until just before serving. Add chicken, grilled nectarines, blue cheese and walnuts just before serving, too.
To make a portable treat, wrap salad in warmed flatbread, tortillas, naan or pita and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. These wraps would be perfect for outdoor events, picnics, etc.