Husbands are really hard to shop for. Does everyone agree? They either want really expensive stuff that we’re not equipped to give, like cars or big power tools, or they don’t want anything. We happened to be spending my husband’s birthday in the Canadian Rockies, with our kids, on our annual summer vacation this past August. Picture this: road trip, seven people, luggage, snacks and sleeping bags all crammed in a suburban, on our way to pick up a rented RV in Calgary…no room for an extra bag of trail mix, let alone birthday presents. I figured I’d find something once we arrived at our destination.
We ducked into a touristy trinket shop in the charming town of Waterton Lakes, and Sarah spied a decadent-looking bottle of maple-balsamic salad dressing. Drew, the b-day boy, loves balsamic anything, so an idea started forming of the perfect surprise birthday meal. We snagged a bottle and left the store, and the rest is history.
We made a delicious main-course salad, which he loved, using pretty much the entire $8.00 bottle of dressing. I knew I could recreate it at home, and so I did just that. And wow, did it start a firestorm. Every person who tries this salad goes wild for it. It’s full of clean, fresh ingredients that meld perfectly together.
And the b-day present search? Well, that’s a story for another day.
- 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled
- 1 deli-roasted chicken
- 1 cup kale
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup red onion
- 1/2 cup bleu cheese
- 1-2 fresh pears
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1-2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove chicken from bones and chop into bite-size pieces.
- Soak cherries in water for 5-10 minutes.
- Dice red onion into very small pieces.
- Put walnuts and syrup in pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Toast nuts while stirring until they are fragrant and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and cool.
- Drain cherries.
- Add all dressing ingredients in blender and combine until smooth.
- Combine all salad ingredients in large bowl, adding pear slices at the last minute.
- Add dressing to taste.
- Toss to mix thoroughly, adding more dressing as needed.
*We use Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice for our grains in this salad. It cooks in 90 seconds and is organic and delicious. You can substitute any variety of your favorite grains to equal 2 cups.
*If you're serving fewer people, add kale and pears only to the portion you need. The rest of the ingredients keep well for a day or two, so you can eat leftovers for lunch the next day! Simply add those two ingredients right before you're eating.
*Bacon takes this salad to a whole new level...just a thought!
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I’m really attracted to how clean and healthy this salad looks. I can already tell from the ingredients how tasty the dressing is. I think a good home-cooked meal qualifies as a great birthday present!
Thank Christine! Hopefully my dad thought it qualified as a good present too. 😉
This looks AMAZING! Just the way I like to eat. I always love combining rice and quinoa.
Thanks Wendy! Rice and quinoa is such a yum combo right? Hope you enjoy!
oh la la – this is totally a must try dinner – thanks, never thought to use maple syrup with quinoa..
Jas, I “invented” this last fall for a big group of friends, and they went wild for it. Now it’s one of our tried-and-true favorites. Hope you love it, too! Happy cooking!
TRYING THIS! I make a raspberry chicken balsamic..but this looks YUM!
Joleene, hope you love this one as much as we do! Anything with maple syrup has got to be good, right?!
This looks so good, minus the chicken (vegetarian here) but I could easily swap in tofu!
Lisa, I don’t love chicken, so I usually leave that out, and it still works great! Tofu would for sure work! Hope you love it:)
This looks amazing and as someone with celiac disease, I can’t wait to try!!!
Thanks Tiffany! And yes! 100% gluten free. Enjoy 🙂
YUM! This looks amazing. I’ve never had Maple-Balsamic, but it sounds delicious and perfect for fall!
Christine, we think maple and balsamic are amazing together! Hope you love this one.
This looks yummy! Love the flavor combination of maple and balsamic!
Thanks, Annissa! Happy cooking!