It’s strawberry season in Arkansas, and I couldn’t be happier. I truly believe that there are no finer strawberries anywhere than those grown in our state, and I love finding an abundance of ways to incorporate them into our menus.

While I seldom go pick my own any more, I do purchase quart after quart at our Farmers Markets and from local growers. I’ve even been known to find a water supply nearby to wash a handful or two to eat as I make my way home.

One of our favorite ways to eat strawberries is with smoked chicken in this Smoked Chicken Salad with Fresh Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing. Since our lettuce crop tends to be ready about the same time as strawberry season, I get to use it with this as well. I prefer the smoked chicken, but using baked or grilled chicken works quite nicely. Smoked lamb is another favorite substitute for the chicken.

Because it seems to keep the salad crispier, I always try to chill the plates being used for this dish.


2 Servings as a meal
Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing
Preparation time: 1 hour

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced
  • 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced green onion or shallot
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Dressing Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar by half over medium heat; set aside to cool completely.
  2. Prepare the strawberries and puree to a liquid with an immersion blender or in a food processor; strain through a sieve and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the black pepper, thyme leaves, green onion, mustard and grapeseed oil
  4. Whisk in the pureed strawberries and reduced balsamic vinegar.
  5. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Smoked Chicken Salad

Preparation time not including smoking the chicken: ½ hour

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 smoked chicken breasts, skinned and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 ounces buttermilk blue cheese (goat cheese, Roquefort may be substituted)
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts, pecans or almonds coarsely chopped
  • 5-6 cups fresh spring greens
  • Coarsely cracked black pepper
  • Fresh Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing (recipe provided)

Salad Instructions

  1. Layer the spring greens on chilled dinner plates.
  2. Top the greens as desired with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Add the fresh dressing and freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Note: This salad obviously has many possible variations. Use ingredients that suit your taste.