This easy Mediterranean chicken salad features tender, boneless chicken breasts that are marinated in a lemon balsamic dressing that is full of the flavor of fresh herbs and garlic. This dish is the perfect summer salad that gives a big dose of Mediterranean flavors!
Summer has arrived and that means it’s salad time. I love using fresh vegetables teamed up with healthy protein choices to make easy and quick dishes that won’t weigh you down in the summer heat (or on the scales!)
For me, that means making fresh salads with some marinated and cooked chicken. One of the beauties of this salad is that the marinade does double duty as a salad dressing, as well, making it really easy to prepare. It’s one of my favorite 30 minute meals.
This recipe fits beautifully into the Mediterranean diet which is my favorite way of eating for lots of health reasons.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a type of diet that is normally found in Mediterranean countries. It features lots of vegetables, whole grains, olive oil as the method of cooking and moderate amounts of protein. Fish and chicken are suggested as the protein sources in preference to red meat. The diet shuns processed foods, added sugar and refined grains and oils.
Both the Paleo and Whole30 diets have similarities to the Mediterranean diet, although they are more strict, since they don’t allow dairy, grains or legumes.
Researchers have round that those who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of having a heart attack, diabetes and stroke. Many of the foods have natural anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
If you are trying to shed a few pounds without wanting to try a fad diet, this is a good one to try. I love all the great whole foods that are plentiful on it.
Making this Mediterranean chicken salad
This dish could not be easier to make. It’s chock full of fresh summer ingredients fresh from my garden. My tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are all growing beautifully right now and fresh herbs are abundant too, so this will form the base of my salad.
With colors like these, you know that this recipe will be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!
Making the marinade for the chicken
The marinade is made from lots of fresh herbs and garlic, as well as lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a bit of water.
Half of the dressing is used as a marinade for the chicken breasts and the other half is reserved to use as a salad dressing. It’s tangy and tart and goes really well with the salad. Bonus: it also helps to keep the chicken moist while it cooks!
Place the chicken breasts in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes. If I have time, I like to give them a few hours so the flavors can really mingle.
Once you have let the chicken marinate for a while, heat a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. The chicken gets cooked until it is lightly browned and cooked in the center. I let it rest while I prepare the rest of the salad.
The salad is such a lovely combination of fresh vegetables that go beautifully with the tangy dressing. I arrange it all and then add the dressing before arranging the chicken and avocado slices for a pretty presentation.
A squeeze of some lemon and a sprinkle of feta cheese and black olives add the last bit of a Mediterranean touch to the salad. It looks so yummy!
Note: if you are doing Paleo or Whole30, omit the Feta cheese.
Time for a taste of this amazing chicken salad
This delicious salad is so crunchy and healthy looking but tastes like a gourmet salad from a fancy café. The home made dressing is tangy and tart with the velvety taste of balsamic.
You’ll feel as though you are on a villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea for lunch or dinner while eating this delicious salad!
This recipe is perfect served right away so that the chicken is still hot, or cold the next day for a quick and easy lunch time meal. (You can also reheat the chicken the next day in the microwave for a minute or so to serve it with hot protein again.)
This salad is truly a feast for the eyes. It has such beautiful and vibrant colors and it is just loaded with nutrition. If you love clean eating, give this salad a try. It won’t disappoint!
If you would like a slightly sweeter taste, add some cranberries to the salad for a change.
To remind yourself of the recipe later, just pin this image to one of your clean eating boards on Pinterest.
Looking for some more salad recipes for summer? Try one of these:
For a Southern Style:
And to add Greek flavor:
Paleo and Whole30 Adjustments for this salad
All of the ingredients in this salad fit into a Paleo diet and are Whole30 compliant with the exception of the Feta Cheese. The salad is great even without the feta, so just omit it and you’re good to go!
This salad is gluten free and makes four generous servings each with 424 calories. This is a high protein recipe with low sugar.
Marinade and Dressing
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp of water
- 2 cloves of finely minced garlic
- 2 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano
- 1 1/2 tbsp of chopped fresh basil
- Dash of sea salt and cracked black pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 cups of Romaine lettuce leaves
- 1 medium cucumber, diced
- 2 small bell peppers, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 4 oz Feta cheese (omit for Paleo and Whole30)
- 1/3 cup black olives, sliced (optional)
- To Garnish:
- Lemon slices
Place all of the ingredients for the marinade in a Mason jar and shake well. Place the chicken breasts in a large bowl and pour out half of the marinade over them. Place the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes. (If you have time, let it marinade up to two hours so the flavors will combine even more.) Place the left over marinade in the fridge to use later as a dressing for the salad.
Remove the chicken and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a non stick pan over medium high heat. Cook the chicken on both sides until it is lightly browned and cooked through - about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes while you prepare the salad.
Place all of the salad ingredients except for the avocado and Feta cheese in a bowl. Add the reserved dressing and toss the salad..
Slice the chicken breasts on the diagonal and arrange the chicken and avocado over the salad and sprinkle with the Feta cheese. Enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7.7gUnsaturated Fat: 2.3gCholesterol: 90.2mgSodium: 616.5mgCarbohydrates: 17.5gFiber: 6gSugar: 4.7gProtein: 324g