The Meal Planner

Whenever I find a main course salad that the whole family loves, it sure makes this mom happy. My husband's eyes light up and I swear I have to wipe up a pile of drool when I tell him I am making this for supper. The nuttiness of the pecans, mixed with the fresh citrus, sweet maple and tangy BBQ sauce is a weird but winning combination. The recipe calls for the chicken to be fried, but I find that the pecans can sometimes burn, and it's a whole lot easier and healthier just to pop them in the oven and bake them.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Serves 4

2 large chicken breasts, cut into long fat strips
Salt and pepper
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup pecans very finely chopped (or ground in a food processor)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 orange, zested

¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup tangy barbecue sauce (whatever your family really likes)
1 navel orange, juiced
Salt and pepper
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
6 radishes, thinly sliced
6 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil.

In 3 separate bowls, place flour in one, beaten eggs in another, and mix together pecans, bread crumbs, nutmeg and orange zest in the last one. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, dip in egg, and roll in pecan/crumb mixture. Place chicken fingers on prepared baking sheet, and drizzle with a bit of olive or vegetable oil. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

In the meantime, prepare salad bowls with chopped up lettuce, green onions and radishes. In a jar combine the maple syrup, juice of navel orange, and BBQ sauce. Shake well.

When chicken is done baking, divide the chicken fingers up among the four salad bowls and place on top of the salads. Drizzle with Maple BBQ dressing.

Click here for printable version of Pecan Chicken over Salad with Maple BBQ Dressing

Delicious. The BBQ sauce you use can really alter the flavor of this dish, so make sure you use one that you really love. I've made this recipe using Bullseye Grilled Onion BBQ sauce, and that has a really deep rich flavor that my husband really likes. This time I used Diana Honey Garlic BBQ sauce and I liked it better. It was sweeter and lighter tasting. The radishes work well to balance the sweetness of the dressing by adding a little bite of peppery bitterness. I think that pecans are the greatest nut ever created, so this salad always makes me happy. Even my 16 month old enjoyed bites of the chicken dipped in the maple BBQ dressing. Happiness all around.

For more great Rachael Ray recipes visit Taste and Tell's Saturdays with Rachael Ray and for more ideas of using up radishes visit Grow. Eat. Save. from $5 Dinners.

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5 Responses
  1. You're right -- this was delicious! The leftovers were great in a wrap the next day. Thanks for sharing this! :)

  2. Mmmm....I never thought of putting the leftovers in a wrap but that sounds fabulous!

  3. Tosha Says:

    Looks delicious! My husband likes my homemade "everything bu the kitchen sink" salads. He would probably like this too. I love not having to shove the green goodies down the families throats, lol!

  4. Deborah Says:

    Growing up, I never really loved maple, but now I can't get enough of it. I'd love this!

  5. Tosha - I agree, I like when it's easy to get your family to eat. The sweetness of the dressing makes everyone including the kids happy.

    Deborah - I've always loved maple. It's weird that orange, maple and bbq sauce are combined in this, but it's such a great combo with the pecans!