A spring mix salad with a parmesan cilantro vinaigrette dressing and chicken. An easy to make salad that will make you feel fancy!
This is another recipe I did in collaboration with The Little Market. A Spring Mix Salad with a Parmesan Cilantro Vinaigrette Dressing and Chicken. You can find all these pieces like the bowls and salad servers over on their site. I love working with their team because of their mission. The Little Market nonprofit organization is dedicated to the economic self-sufficiency of women worldwide through dignified income opportunities. Their mission is anchored in the fundamental belief that every person has the right to safe jobs and fair, livable wages. Each piece is made following fair-trade principles, ultimately contributing to a life-changing sustainable income and giving back to the people who made it.
So many people are against making their own salads at home, but I think it might be because we’re just not adding enough toppings and the fun stuff. At least that’s what bores me about salads at home. In a restaurant there is so much they put on salad. We have to do the same at home for that same quality salad. I personally love a good and hearty salad. A truly delicious salad needs a great dressing, all the add-ins, and a good lettuce. This salad is anything but boring.
This cilantro parmesan salad dressing was actually inspired by one of my chef friends in St. Louis, Gerard Craft. He runs Cinder House at the Four Seasons and serves a cilantro parmesan dressing on this amazing salmon salad and it’s the best. This is my take on his inspiration!
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Why You Should Try this Spring Mix Salad Recipe
This recipe is great for a fresh and tasty lunch or a great hearty salad dinner recipe. It’s quick and versatile and you can easily swap out some ingredients for what you have in your kitchen.
I love a delicious green salad. I prefer using a spring mix or dark, leafy greens in my salad. But if you have a specific lettuce in already or one you love the most, you can use that instead. You can swap out other ingredients as well, such as the apples. I believe pink ladies are the best for this recipe, but if you prefer another, just be sure you pick a tart apple instead of an overly sweet one. Or you could even try a pear.
It’s also a great recipe to prepare in advance. You can prep many of the ingredients and just throw together when you are ready to eat. If you decide to make your dressing in advance, just place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will thicken a bit in the colder temp, so you may want to give a good stir, or set it on the counter for 15-20 minutes before assembling your salad.
I like to go over which ingredients that you should have the best quality for, which can be swapped if needed, or any specific notes I can think of for you. Below are the ingredients you should know about.
- Protein: I like to make my chicken fresh for this recipe, but you can use pre-cooked chicken, or a completely different protein like salmon, red meat, tofu, or tempeh. Whatever floats your boat. I would recommend the same seasoning listed below for the cook because anything more complicated might throw off the flavor profile.
- Cilantro: Yes, this recipe calls for cilantro! If you are cilantro adverse then this recipe probably isn't for you...the dressing is after all Cilantro Parmesan. But if you really want to make it, you can try it out with other herbs like parsley. I haven't tried that so that's on you to make that call. I personally love cilantro and the flavor of this salad overall.
- Garlic: If you are a super garlic lover, you can throw in an extra clove (or two) of garlic. But again remember, these are raw cloves, so they will be strong!
- Apples: I did mention this above, but I truly love the tartness that Pink Ladies bring to this salad. If you want to make a swap, be sure to use something similar instead of something too sweet or too tart. Granny Smith or Jazz might be good alternatives. Or even try swapping in a pear.
- Lettuce: I am a fan of a good spring mix or dark and leafy greens like kale and baby spinach or even arugula. I suggest using those types of greens in this salad. You can of course use your favorite lettuce or whatever you have on hand.
- Sunflower seeds: I use these often for a crunch in my salad. I can’t add nuts to my salads as I have an allergy, so these are a great alternative for me. However, you can feel free to swap them for almonds or pecans or whichever nut is your favorite in salads.
- Goat Cheese: I prefer my goat cheese in block form for a salad. It’s easy to break up and has a wonderful taste and texture. If you can find a 6oz block at the store that will be a great size for your 4 salads.
How to Make Parmesan Vinaigrette
Making this salad dressing is super fast and easy. Everything goes into the blender and mix until smooth. If it needs a little liquid, you can add in water one teaspoon at a time.
You can make this ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge. However, it may need to be left out for a bit before serving or shaken hard to come together again. Sometimes dressings might separate and harden in the fridge when oil is used.
How do you Make Spring Mix Salad?
In just a few simple steps this hearty salad will come together nicely!
Preheat the oven and line your baking sheet with parchment paper. And in a small bowl, mix all your seasonings. In a large bowl (or directly in a pan) cover chicken in olive oil, then coat in seasonings.
Place the chicken onto the pan and bake. If you want the chicken browned on the outside, first cook the chicken on the stove over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to the oven for the remainder of the cook. Always check the color or internal temperature of the chicken for final doneness.
Let the chicken rest for about 8-10 minutes and the slice.
Toss lettuce, cilantro, apples, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and dressing until mixed well.
Top with chicken and enjoy!
Everything should last for a few days in the fridge. If you are just making this for 1-2 people, I would suggest not mixing all of your salad before serving. Separate out the ingredients you won't be eating all of and store in airtight containers in the fridge.
Feel free to plate however you want. I'm all about presentation, so I like to mix everything but the protein and hold back a bit of each of the toppings. Then I mix those in a bowl with the dressing. Set aside some extra toppings and the protein. Try slicing the protein on a cutting board on an angle. Then sprinkle the extra toppings across the top of the salad and lay the protein fanned, across the top. For more styling tips check out my Food Styling Tips Guide.
You can use a variety of dressing with a spring mix salad. In this recipe I use a homemade Cilantro Parmesan Vinaigrette, which pairs really nicely with the salad and chicken topping. If you want to try something different, go for a citrus or herbaceous vinaigrette.
Other Soups and Salad Recipes to Try
- Chimichurri and Fresh Salad with Chicken
- Veg-Heavy Tortilla Soup
- Vegan Sage & Garlic White Bean Soup
- Blackened Salmon Salad
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Spicy Watermelon Salad
Love this Recipe?
Did you make this recipe and just love it? Awesome! If you have a quick minute and could leave a star/recipe rating and comment below, I would appreciate the support and knowing your feedback! And if you’re over on Instagram, be sure to tag me in your photos!
- 1 cup fresh cilantro can include stems
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice about 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoon water
- salt and pepper to taste
Chicken (or protein)
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ cayenne
- 10 oz spring mix
- 2 tablespoon cilantro loosely packed
- 2 apples sliced or diced
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
- 5 oz goat cheese crumbled
- chicken breasts from above, cooked and sliced
- dressing from above (you may have extra)
- Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If it needs a little liquid, you can add in water one teaspoon at a time.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix all your seasonings.
- In a large bowl (or directly in a pan) cover chicken in oil, then coat in seasonings.
- Place onto the pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes (until internal temp is 165° F). If you want the chicken browned on the outside, first cook the chicken on the stove over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to the oven for the remainder of the cook.
- Let the chicken rest for about 8-10 minutes. Slice.
- Toss lettuce, cilantro, apples, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and dressing until mixed well.
- Top with chicken and serve.