If you’re anything like me, you might have a hard time really wanting to eat all of your vegetables during the winter. I mean, when I trek outside to do errands and walk the dog, then come home, I don’t generally want a big salad for dinner. I want pasta. Or creamy soup. Or something cheesy. Or all three. When the windchill is five degrees, salad just isn’t going to cut it. Until now. This Almond-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Winter Wild Rice Salad recipe changes everything.
I’ve discovered my sweet spot for winter salads. They just have to be super hearty. Like yeah, I’m calling this a salad, but it’s really a salad in name only. Because there’s a bed of spinach buried here somewhere. But between the chewy wild rice, the soft and comforting roasted sweet potatoes, the crunchy almonds, the tangy feta cheese, all those blood oranges (hello, love), and oh yeah, those big ol’ pieces of breaded chicken, this is anything but a typical salad. It’s winter comfort food masquerading as something healthy. Except it really IS healthy. Guys, I just don’t know how to classify this one.
About that crispy chicken. Use chicken thighs for this, because they’re delicious. Use Bob’s Red Mill Finely Ground Almond Meal/Flour to lightly bread the chicken, because 1.) it will give your chicken an amazing nutty crust, and 2.) it’s inherently gluten-free and low in carbohydrates.
Pile all of this onto a big platter, and add extra blood oranges if you want. Because, you’ll blink and blood orange season will be over, and then you’ll be sad you didn’t add another orange to this salad. Right? Oh, and there’s a simple blood orange-olive oil salad dressing for this, because again, blood orange season(!!!).
For the Salad:
- 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Wild Rice
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- Olive oil, kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 package (5 ounces) baby spinach
- 3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
For the Almond-Crusted Chicken:
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Finely Ground Almond Meal/Flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 eggs
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the Blood Orange-Olive Oil Dressing:
- 1/4 cup blood orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare wild rice according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potato chunks on rimmed baking pan; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to oven; bake 28 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender, stirring once.
- Make the Almond-Crusted Chicken: In shallow dish, whisk together almond meal, salt, pepper and garlic powder. In second shallow dish, lightly whisk eggs. Spray rimmed baking pan with cooking spray. Working with one piece at a time, dip chicken in egg, shaking off excess, then dip in almond meal mixture. Place on prepared baking pan; lightly spray chicken with cooking spray.
- Transfer chicken to 400 degree oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, turning once (you can put the chicken in the oven as the sweet potatoes finish cooking). If desired, finish chicken under broiler for extra crispness: Set broiler to high. Place chicken 4 to 5 inches from broiler and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown; watching very carefully.
- Meanwhile, make the Blood Orange-Olive Oil Dressing: In small bowl, whisk together blood orange juice, honey and salt. Gradually add olive oil, while whisking, until all oil is fully incorporated.
- Assemble the Salad: Place spinach on large platter. Top with blood oranges, cheese, almonds, wild rice, sweet potato and chicken. Serve with Blood Orange-Olive Oil Dressing.
Home Chef Tip: To get every last drop of juice out of your blood oranges, roll the fruit on the counter to get its juices flowing, then cut it in half. Rest a fine-mesh strainer over a large liquid measuring cup. Holding the fruit over the strainer, twist a fork into the flesh of the fruit while you squeeze the fruit at the same time, making sure to scrape around in there with the fork until every last drop of juice is released. The strainer will catch all the pulp and seeds, and only pure, fresh orange juice will be waiting for you in your measuring cup.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bob’s Red Mill. Sponsored posts help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.