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Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

November 6, 2014

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Chicken SaladPin it!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, then you’ve heard me whining — since all the way back in July — about my tendinitis/RSI injury from too much computering.

It felt like a long summer of going to physical therapy, not-so-patiently resting my hands, wrists, and arms, and taking lots of forced time off from the laptop and the internet.

Even now that I’m back to doing a little typing, I’m limiting myself to about 3 hours per day of using my new ergonomic keyboard and taking frequent, regular breaks (using free RSI break reminder apps). And believe me, 3 hours feels like nothing, especially when you’ve been a graduate student/food blogger. I don’t think I’ve ever been so behind on responding to emails in my life.

Balsamic Honey VinaigrettePin it!

But back to this summer: I didn’t cook; I didn’t wash dishes. (Well, I tried, but then my hands were in so much pain that Paula forbid me from doing anything in the kitchen…) So it all fell on Paula’s shoulders — all the cooking and cleaning for two, on top of her full-time job.

And yet, we still survived the summer! (And we only ate 1 or 2 frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s a week!) How did we do it? This salad.

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Chicken SaladPin it!

This salad, with my new favorite homemade salad dressing. This salad, which we ate so often this summer because it was the fastest, easiest, most satisfying, tendinitis-friendly and wallet-friendly meal we could come up with. We now refer to it as Tendinitis Salad.

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Chicken SaladPin it!

It all started the weekend after I first went to urgent care for wrist pain back in July. Some friends came to visit and we all drove up to wine country for a picnic, then we got back into town too late to throw together a real dinner — plus my hands were out of commission — so we stopped at a restaurant for take-out and I ordered a grilled chicken salad.

The restaurant salad was as simple as can be: grilled chicken strips, red onions, and diced tomatoes over mixed greens — something I likely never would have ordered if I hadn’t been craving some kind of fresh, protein-y, carb-less detox after a full day of bread, cheese, and wine. After one too many baguette slices smeared with brie, the salad hit the spot. I realized how much I was enjoying the tangy balsamic honey dressing and thought — as I so often have: I could make this!

And so, a week or two later, I threw together the ONLY thing I made this summer: this vinaigrette.

Making Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Here’s where the tendinitis-friendliness comes in: all you need is an immersion blender and a mason jar, and you’ll have minimal salad-dressing-dishes to wash. Just toss in a roughly-chopped shallot (Paula chopped it for me), some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and maybe a dash of Dijon mustard, and blend away with the immersion blender.

Making Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Even my damaged hands could handle pushing the button for the few seconds it took to whip up the smooth emulsion, tangy with vinegar, creamy from the shallot, and with just a hint of sweetness from the honey. One batch makes about a cup, which will last in the fridge and make your future salad-making even speedier.

Making Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

The tendinitis-friendliness continues: we topped our salad with warm shredded chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken (no cooking! no clean-up!) and with cherry tomatoes (no chopping!), pickled red onion (purely optional, Paula would argue), and crumbled feta cheese.

The result was a salad that I don’t think we’ll ever get sick of — we certainly didn’t this summer, despite eating it too many times to count.

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Rotisserie Chicken SaladPin it!

I think it was a salad that helped us survive the summer partially because we tend to crave salads on hot summer nights anyway — we just made this one a little more substantial. With the chicken and feta, it’s hearty enough to stand in for an entree, but try a variation on it without the chicken as a nice side-salad accompaniment to a meal.

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Mixed Greens Salad with Feta CheesePin it!

You might be less enthused about cold salads now that fall has arrived, but the contrasting temperatures of the warm chicken on the bed of mixed greens makes for a surprisingly pleasant and satisfying meal in any season. (And I don’t know about you, but I can never get enough greens in the fall and winter months…)

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Rotisserie Chicken SaladPin it!

As the season of roast chickens and roast turkeys turkey approaches, this would also be a nice way to use up some of that leftover turkey or chicken, especially if you’re not into resorting — for reasons of tendinitis (or deliciousness) — to store-bought rotisserie chicken. Just gently warm up some shredded chicken/turkey leftovers in the microwave, top your salad with them before you drizzle over the dressing, and enjoy.

Making Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette Salad DressingPin it!

I might be late to the game on this, but green salads with one or two warm elements have finally caught my attention — I’m converted now, a lifelong fan.

I think this means some version of a warm chickpea salad is destined to appear in my future (although Paula swears she’ll never enjoy chickpeas in salads, but I suspect that’s just because the ones she’s tried haven’t been warm and/or seasoned enough). But first it will be hard to tear myself away from just enjoying this Tendinitis Salad with balsamic vinaigrette over and over again.

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Rotisserie Chicken SaladPin it!

Print these recipes. (PDF)


Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

(Makes about 1 cup)

Active and Total time: 5 minutes.

~ 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
~ 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or more, to taste
~ 1/2 cup olive oil, or more, to taste
~ 2-3 tsp. honey
~ sea salt and black pepper
~ 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard (optional)

Special equipment needed:
~ immersion blender (or blender)

How to make it:

1. Combine all ingredients in a tall, narrow container, like a mason jar, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Or use a standard blender.)

2. Enjoy right away or refrigerate in an airtight container, then warm to room temperature before serving (some separation will occur in the fridge).

Warm Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (“Tendinitis Salad”)

~ mixed greens
~ cherry tomatoes
~ preferred vegetables, like sliced bell pepper or cucumber
~ red onion or pickled red onion
~ crumbled feta cheese
~ shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey
~ Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

Assemble salad ingredients in bowls, then top each bowl with warmed chicken or turkey and drizzle over the vinaigrette. Alternatively, in a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients except the feta cheese together to lightly coat them in vinaigrette, then divide into bowls, sprinkle with crumbled feta, and serve.

Print these recipes! (PDF)

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Warm Rotisserie Chicken SaladPin it!

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2014 10:03 am

    What about software where it types what you dictate? Would that help you?

    • November 6, 2014 10:28 am

      Yes! Thanks for your suggestion! I did buy the Dragon dictation software back in July or August — it was really helpful & was definitely the only way I could type an email, or anything, back then… But it’s pretty frustrating and slow to work with, and I still end up using my hands quite a bit to manually correct all of its mistakes. I’m glad I have it, and I will go back to using it if my tendinitis ever severely flares up again, but for now I’m preferring to type myself (on an ergonomic keyboard) while taking frequent breaks (at least a 5 min. break every 25-30 minutes). The frequent breaks are frustrating too, but I think a little less so than the dictation software!

  2. November 6, 2014 3:42 pm

    Can’t wait to try this! Sounds amazing.

  3. November 6, 2014 7:39 pm

    An unfortunate name (tendonitis salad), but this looks delicious!! I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been/is for both of you to have one person out of commission like that…

    • November 29, 2014 11:51 am

      Haha, I know — definitely an unfortunate name, and Paula stopped me from calling the blog post itself “tendonitis salad,” which I think was a wise decision. (Because, ew.) But this really was the salad that helped us survive the summer! And I’m still not sick of it! :)

      (And yep, it was frustrating for both of us and a ton of work for Paula — I think she’s especially happy that I’m back to being able to wash dishes again!)

  4. November 6, 2014 8:56 pm

    This looks delish! I’ll have to try out your dressing the next time I’m using up some left over roast chicken. This is definitely seasonal here with Spring slowly turning into Summer down under!
    Sorry to hear you’ve been suffering with tendinitis but I’m glad to hear that you are now on the mend :)

    • November 29, 2014 11:53 am

      Thanks! And yay, I’m glad it’s seasonal for some people, even though it’s not for me, haha. Although you’ll probably be roasting fewer chickens once your summer weather really heats up… But the salad dressing itself is of course delicious year-round :)

  5. November 7, 2014 2:47 am

    nice salad!

  6. November 7, 2014 5:07 am

    Sounds Great! I love salads and I’m always looking for new dressings to try. A salad is nothing without a delicious dressing!

    • November 29, 2014 11:55 am

      I agree — the dressing often makes the salad! And it’s nice to find a dressing recipe that feels like a treat, or like the star of the salad, without being too creamy or heavy.

  7. November 7, 2014 7:55 am

    YUM. Definitely will have to try this. My husband and I are big balsamic fans.

  8. November 7, 2014 10:48 am

    I jut got an immersion blender and I’m so excited to make this! Looks great! I don’t have tendinitis but any recipe that doesn’t involve a lot of dishes is good in my book!

    • November 29, 2014 11:57 am

      Awesome! Yeah, I was super excited to get an immersion blender too. (I had one a long time ago that I never really used, and then — despite that — it somehow broke… but now that I finally bought one again, I am constantly thinking of ways to use it, and it almost always saves on dishes to wash!)

  9. November 7, 2014 5:34 pm

    Nice additions here! I make a very similar dressing minus the onion and shallots because of my kids. I love Dijon mustard!

    • November 29, 2014 12:00 pm

      Thanks! I love Dijon mustard, too. I actually only started adding that like the fourth or fifth time I made this dressing, because before that I had just been trying to replicate the one I’d had from the restaurant, so I only used balsamic, olive oil, shallot, and honey — still super good just like that, but the Dijon makes it even better! (Actually, I’m impressed your kids don’t mind the Dijon even though they might mind the shallot!)

      • November 29, 2014 8:16 pm

        I know! And i buy the real kind, I bring it back from Dijon when u go to France, which is nice and spicy! I think the honey mellows it out a bit that’s probably why the kids like it 😉

  10. November 8, 2014 11:35 am

    What I wouldn’t give for a delicious vinaigrette like this in my salad :D
    Store bought, what even are you doing? I much prefer this homemade one!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • November 29, 2014 12:02 pm

      Thanks, CCU! I know, I will never get excited about storebought dressings again — it’s much nicer to have control over exactly what goes into a dressing, and how it tastes, AND it saves money to make it at home. (Of course I might be lazier about doing that if I didn’t have an immersion blender and I had to get the larger blender dirty… but homemade is still worth it!)

  11. MyKabulKitchen permalink
    November 19, 2014 9:18 am

    With all the heavy recipes I am coming across for the holidays, its nice to see a healthy salad recipe! I hope your doing better, I didn’t know you could sustain such an injury, hope your feeling better my dear :-)

    • November 29, 2014 12:05 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment :) I am feeling much better, thanks. Not 100% at all, but at least now I can go back to some cooking, some dish-washing, and some typing on the computer, as long as I’m conscious of taking (ibuprofen and) lots of breaks.

      And that’s exactly what I was aiming for — a salad recipe to add a little variety to all the heavier/rich recipes that get posted around this time of year. It’s not exactly what most people crave on cold winter evenings, but I figured plenty of people would have leftovers of roast turkey or chicken, and they’ll want some way to enjoy that for lunches.

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