pecan-crusted goat cheese + braised chicken salad with blood orange tahini dressing

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pecan-crusted goat cheese + braised chicken salad with blood orange tahini dressing

 pecan-crusted goat cheese + braised chicken salad

with blood orange tahini dressing

When I create salads I think a lot about taste and appearance. I want there to be lots of color, so it looks exciting. I want it to be seasonal, so that everything is as fresh and as vibrant as it will ever be. And as I bite into it, I want there to be lots of different flavors and textures…something with crunch, something soft, something savory, something with tang and something sweet. Call me greedy. And frankly, I don’t gravitate towards salads…I really need them have some jazz hands. This chicken salad gives me all of that.

If you can’t find blood oranges, substitute oranges. If you don’t have the seasoning I used for the chicken, substitute good ol’ fashion salt and pepper. Let’s be flexible. One other selling point: you could (and should) make the dressing ahead of time, as well as the chicken, rice and goat cheese balls. Make ahead. Love it.

Let’s get our green on.

Chicken braised with blood oranges | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife

Braised Chicken + Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Blood Orange Tahini Dressing

pecan crusted goat cheese + braised chicken salad with blood orange tahini dressing

braised chicken + pecan-crusted goat cheese salad

with blood orange tahini dressing

Serves 4 Main Course Servings


For the Dressing

  • ½ cup sunflower seed oil
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • Juice from one blood orange
  • Juice from one tangerine
  • 2 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 1 (generous) tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Salad

  • 1.5 cups forbidden rice, uncooked
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Datil Pepper Spice* OR 1 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 blood oranges, divided (one for the braise, 1/2 to juice over the chicken and the other half cut into thin slices; the other two are peeled and cut crosswise for the salad)
  • 5 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 cup pecans, divided (1/2 cup for the salad; ½ cup crushed for the goat cheese)
  • 8 cups baby arugula, cleaned and dried
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries

*Datil Pepper Spice comes from a pepper that only grows in Florida. I also make this toe-curling recipe with it here.


For the Dressing

  1. I like to mix my dressings in my high-speed blender (Vitamix). You could also use a regular blender or a whisk…you decide. Put the sunflower seed oil, champagne vinegar, juice from both a blood orange and tangerine, dried cherries, tahini, honey and salt in your blender and blend on high speed until the cherries are broken up and the mixture is completely emulsified. Set aside.

For the Chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Make sure you have a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Grab two large plates: one for your raw chicken (in which to season it on) and another to rest the chicken after you’ve browned it.
  3. Place the chicken on one of the plates and coat with 1 tablespoon Datil spice or 1 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper.
  4. Heat either a large cast-iron pot (I use a 5.5 QT cocotte) or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoons of olive oil. Once it’s shimmering, swirl it around so that it coats the surface.
  5. Place the chicken in the pot, without crowding it. You may need to brown the chicken in batches depending on the size of your pot. Leave the chicken, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes or until a nice brown crust forms. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan and place on the other clean plate. Repeat until all breasts are browned, but not cooked through.
  6. Pour the chicken broth into the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to get up any brown bits.
  7. Add the chicken and accumulated juices to the pot. Squeeze half of one blood orange over the chicken and then place the blood orange slices from the other half in and round the chicken.
  8. Place the pot on the middle rack of the oven, with the lid on, and cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  9. Set the chicken aside to cool.
  10. Once cooled, cut the chicken into small, bite-size chunks.

For the Salad

  1. Cook your rise according to the instructions on the package. Set aside to cool.
  2. Grab your crushed pecans, goat cheese and a plate to rest the balls on. Make sure your pecans are finely crushed up. Roll about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese into a ball between your palms. Gently roll the goat cheese balls in the crushed pecans and place on the plate. Once all of the goat cheese is coated and rolled, place the plate in the freezer. After 1-2 hours, they should be frozen and you can place them in a resealable plastic bag and put back in the freezer. Take them out of the freezer 2 hours prior to serving the salad.
  3. Put the arugula in a large bowl. Sprinkle the rice, basil leaves, pecans, cherries and chicken. Drizzle with half of the salad dressing and toss a bit. Taste. Do you need all of the dressing? Everyone’s taste is different. Add more in small increments until you hit the sweet spot. Place the blood orange slices around the salad and sprinkle with the pecan-crusted goat cheese balls. That’s it. You’re done.
  4. This should be eaten within an hour of tossing…arugula + dressing won’t last long together once introduced. That’s just how some relationships go. Enjoy!

*This recipe also appears on the Huffington Post.

pecan crusted goat cheese + braised chicken with blood orange tahini dressing

{ on my mind }

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Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

I love your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot, I look forward to chatting with you!

Rebecca xox


  • Karen (Back Road Journal) March 6, 2016 at 10:47 PM

    Now that certainly isn’t your average, boring salad…I’d say it is terrific.

    • DisplacedHousewife March 7, 2016 at 6:13 PM

      Thank you so much Karen! I can’t tell you how many time we’ve made it. When I can’t find blood oranges I’ve been substituting regular oranges or Cara Cara — delicious!! xoxo

  • Asha February 22, 2016 at 1:44 AM

    Woahhhhh…that is one flavor packed salad my dear. The chicken and the goat cheese, brilliant idea. I’ll tell you this is a life changing salad, absolutely fab. I need to make one soon.
    Congrats on your feature, how cool is that..xoxo

  • Parker Stewart February 17, 2016 at 2:14 AM

    Anything blood orange is a friend of mine. I bet when mixed with those goat cheese balls the taste combo is like riding your first roller coaster. Woah!

    And great call on using that Datil Pepper Spice! ;)

  • Noha @Matters of the Belly February 16, 2016 at 6:02 AM

    Whoaaaaaa man that is ONE BANGING SALAD!! I’m just as greedy as you with salad. They gotta have attitude! Those little goat cheese balls…i think they might just change my life Rebecca! GENIUS!!! Ill make them right this instant, as i was planning to make an arugula & fig salad with sad boring blobs of goats cheese. Woohoo!

    • DisplacedHousewife February 16, 2016 at 4:10 PM

      Thank you Noha!! Those goat cheese balls are exciting!! I hope you love them as much as we do! xoxo

  • Traci | Vanilla And Bean February 15, 2016 at 4:40 PM

    Oh my goodness! I love those little goat cheese balls!? ‘After 1-2 hours, they should be frozen and you can place them in a resealable plastic bag and put back in the freezer. ‘ Genius! I could go crazy with this Rebecca! I’m a make ahead lover so this suits me just fine! And that blood orange dressing with forbidden rice… you’ve hit some of my favorite flavor notes! Delicious my dear! xo

    • DisplacedHousewife February 15, 2016 at 8:21 PM

      Thanks Traci!! Dem balls are the best!! Freezing them helps retain their shape. And this dressing…it’s everything. I’m all outta blood oranges today so it’s morphing into an orange (cara cara) dressing. Yum. xoxo

  • Anne Marlett February 15, 2016 at 2:03 AM

    I can’t wait to try this!

  • Mary S. February 14, 2016 at 10:45 PM

    This looks so delicious! I especially love the dressing.

  • Josh February 14, 2016 at 10:41 PM

    This looks really good. I cant wait to go and try this recipe!