This Caprese Dinner Salad with Grilled Chicken and Pesto Dressing is perfect for the best of summer produce. And there’s no need to heat up the house because it’s all done fresh and on the grill!
We love making huge dinner salads in the summer and it would seem you do too! Today’s recipe came about from lots of requests for more dinner salads coming into summer.
So first up I thought we’d start with the most summery combination I could think of – pesto and tomatoes. Caprese salads of all kinds are one of my favorite things to make during the summer. And so it’s only natural to turn that classic combination into a full meal.
Just a quick note about the recipe, there is a dairy free option as well which is still really good. I know many of you can’t have dairy at all, so I like to try and keep my recipes adaptable if at all possible. The pesto has a dairy free option as well which has become a favorite of mine in the summer.
Now let’s make this Caprese Dinner Salad with Grilled Chicken and Pesto Dressing!
Since this recipe is made up of simple ingredients, the better they are, the better the flavor will be. Specifically the tomatoes will pay dividends of flavor if you can get them from a farmer’s market.
Also I like to buy my basil in the bulk packages from farmer’s market because it’s always way more affordable than from the supermarket.
The pesto dressing is basically a pesto with a touch of vinegar in it. But my favorite secret is to add a bit of spinach to it for bright green color. Basil turns brown anywhere it’s been cut and exposed to air. Since it’s essentially pulverized when you make pesto, adding spinach helps to preserve it’s vibrant color.
More Dinner Salad Inspiration:
- Grilled Chicken Shawarma Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Fish Taco Slaw Bowls with Mango Salsa and Creamy Cilantro Dressing
- Vietnamese Chicken Salad
- Chipotle Chicken Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Cheeseburger Salad with Secret Sauce Dressing
- Fully Loaded Taco Salad with Salsa Dressing
- Strawberry Cobb Salad
- Guacamole Salad with Grilled Chipotle Chicken
- Triple Berry Spinach Salad
- Grilled Chicken BLAT Salad with Avocado Ranch
Tips for the perfect Caprese Salad:
- Source everything you can at the farmer’s market. For us it’s so much cheaper, you get to support local farmers, and it tastes so much better there’s no comparison.
- Instead of a splash of balsamic vinegar, I like to use a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar. Be sure and check the labels though because some of them have all sorts of additives you don’t want. My favorite is an aged balsamic from Napa Valley Naturals, called Grand Reserve. It’s a bit more pricey than regular balsamic, but you don’t go through it very fast, and it makes anything Caprese taste amazing!
My favorite classic combination made into a summery dinner salad!
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 2
1/2 Teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped and washed, 12-14 cups
3 cups halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, 1 pound
2 cups chopped fresh mozzarella, or mozzarella pearls, 10 ounces, omit for dairy free
1 large ripe avocado, thinly sliced, or cubed
3 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, or 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast for dairy free
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup baby spinach, 1 ounce
2 cups lightly packed basil leaves, 1.5 ounces
1/2 cup olive oil
Aged balsamic or reduced balsamic vinegar for drizzling on top
Place the chicken in a glass bowl and mix together with the sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. Put the chicken in the fridge to marinate while you prepare the salad ingredients.
Prep the romaine, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella and place them in a large serving bowl or deep dish platter.
Preheat the grill over medium high heat until you reach a temperature of 400ºF. Place the chicken on the grill, and grill for 10-12 minutes, or until the chicken is loose enough to turn over. Once you turn the chicken over, cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
Remove the chicken from the grill, and let it cool while you prepare the pesto dressing.
Place the pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, sea salt, pepper, Dijon, white wine vinegar, baby spinach, basil, and olive oil into a blender. Blend on low speeds until a slightly chunky dressing forms.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, thinly slice or cube it up and add it to the salad bowl. Serve the salad with the pesto dressing and aged balsamic for drizzling. Or you can toss the salad with the pesto dressing and serve with the aged balsamic.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 20
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Caprese Dinner Salad, Pesto Chicken Salad, Caprese Chicken Salad