Dinner salads are my summer food jam. They’re filling, healthy, and loaded with seasonal flavors. Today’s special is this grilled mediterranean chicken salad. It’s a bold combination of lemon-oregano brined chicken, olives, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, topped with an oregano vinaigrette that will have you cravin’ more!
Can we talk about summer dinners for a minute? They can be such a drag. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a food blogger. I like to cook, like, a lot. And I love food, like, a lot. But cooking in the summer really cuts into my incredibly busy schedule of pool days, naps, reading, and Pinterest-ing tropical vacation destinations that my 2-year can’t go on. Also all of the food magazines and eating almond butter from the jar with a spoon.
Oh, does that sound lazy? Welcome to the lazy mom’s club. I’m President. We welcome you with yoga pants, snacks, and easy nutritious dinners that require minimal effort. Like this mediterranean chicken salad.
I super heart this salad for so many reasons, but I’ll name just a few:
- Brine, baby! Brine does all of the work and you get all of the credit.
- Easy and fast. Brine chicken. Wait a few hours. Grill chicken. Slap onto bed of vegetables.
- Light and fresh, but filling. This salad’s got staying power.
- Family friendly. I made this into a kid-approved situation by plating the chicken in one corner, some cucumbers in another, cheese in the third, and rounding it out with a container of yogurt. Not the most veggie dense meal, but “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” is how we roll.
Like most great salads, the magic here is the dressing. Also the brine, but we’ll get to that. Where was I? Dressing. Right.
This beautiful, hot-and-cold mess is topped with an herby, sweet-and-savory oregano vinaigrette. It’s what takes this mediterranean chicken salad from “oh, yay! (/sarcasm) another grilled chicken salad!” to “OMG, please be the last dinner salad I ever eat because you’re so fine imma lose my mind”.
Pin it now! Click here to save this Mediterranean Chicken Salad to your Summer Recipes board on Pinterest.
How to Make Mediterranean Chicken Salad
This salad is packed with so much flavor, but it requires the least amount of effort possible. It’s that magical combination of brine + grill + veggies + dressing, and I repeat it often because it works every damn time.
Lemon Oregano Brined Chicken Breast
Grilled chicken breasts have a reputation for being dry, bland, and not so delicious. Nobody wants that kinda rep, and that’s why I’m a big, big fan of brining. Brining can be as simple as soaking your chicken in salted water and slapping it on the grill, but we’re gonna go the extra mile here.
To our salty water, we’re gonna add big pops of flavor:
- Lemon juice
- Crushed oregano
- Bay leaf
The brine will keep the chicken moist, and just a touch of acid from the lemon juice will tenderize it and add flavor. The key here is not to overdo it on the acid – too much and it’ll actually make the chicken tough.
You can brine for as little as two hours, but 4 is better. Don’t go longer than a work day.
Look at that fine grilled chicken. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and infused with flavor from the inside out. You get all of that by taking just 10 minutes to prepare a brine bath. You’re awesome – go you!
According to a very scientific google search experiment I just conducted, oregano vinaigrette isn’t super popular, but hot damn it should be.
Fresh oregano has a completely different flavor profile than dried. It’s pungent and a wee bit aggressive, but once you tame it with some honey and red wine vinegar, it’s got that umami punch that has your taste buds craving more.
Because this salad celebrates the lazy that lives in all of us, we’re gonna make this dressing in a blender or food processor. No chopping required. Wheeee! Pulverizing the oregano also releases some it’s natural oils and helps tamp down its sharp edge.
Mediterranean Chicken Salad Substitutions
The salad base here is pretty easy and straightforward – mixed greens, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, persian cucumbers, and fresh mozzarella.
I always have all of these things available in the summer, so while I’d love to say that my choices were meticulously paired, they were simply what I had and what I knew would work flavor-wise. The good news here? You can do the same because this salad is really versatile:
- Use feta instead of mozzarella
- Skip the cheese altogether and use avocado for a paleo or dairy-free salad
- Add or swap in roasted red peppers or grilled eggplant or zucchini
This is YOUR lazy summer salad. Go wild!
Now, go brine some chicken, pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead and gettin’ the job done, and then go take a nap – you deserve it!
Need more easy, delicious dinner salad recipes? All wishes are promptly granted in the lazy mom’s club (except laundry):
- Basil Chicken Salad with Peaches and Corn
- Steak Fajita Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
- Chicken Shawarma Salad
- Roasted Veggie Salad with Green Tahini
- Avocado Strawberry Chicken Salad
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Mediterranean Chicken Salad
This mediterranean chicken salad is the perfect summer meal for busy families! It's an easy gluten free dinner salad that's packed with bold flavor.
Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken
- 4 c water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 clove garlic smashed
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh oregano lightly crushed
- 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- 4 c romaine lettuce or mixed greens
- 1 c canned artichoke hearts halved
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 c kalamata olives
- 2 persian cucumbers diced
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
Whisk the water with the lemon juice and salt until the salt dissolves. Place the chicken breasts into a resealable gallon sized bag, then pour the brine over the chicken. Add the peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf to the bag. Lightly twist the oregano spring between your palms to release the oils, then add to the bag. Press out the air, and place in the fridge to brine for at least 2 hours and up to 8.
When you're ready to eat, heat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Brush both sides of the chicken with the olive oil, then place on the grill. Grill the chicken 6-7 minutes, then flip. Grill on the other side an additional 6-7 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165* with an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.
Place the mixed greens onto a platter or into a large salad bowl. Top the greens with the artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, persian cucumbers, and fresh mozzarella.
Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients into a blender. Blend until the oregano is completely pulverized the the vinaigrette is smooth.
Slice the chicken against the grain into 1/2" slices, and place over the salad base. Drizzle with oregano vinaigrette and sprinkle with a tablespoon of fresh oregano if desired. Serve immediately. This salad keeps in the fridge, undressed, for up to three days.
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