Stolen Salads: Lean-To Salad

This is, in fact, not a stolen salad since my college roommate and I made it up. It takes its name from the fact that she thought we should have a cool name for our apartment and the best we could come up with was “The Lean-To” (abbreviated “/2”). It works as a side salad or a full meal and is a good way to use leftover chicken. Try to make this when pears are in season (usually fall or winter).

You Will Need:
  • French, ciabatta or other artisan white bread
  • Garlic powder (not shown in pictures)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pear (ripe or slightly underripe but not crunchy)
  • Salad greens (I prefer spring mix but any blend is good)
  • Golden raisins
  • Feta cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Mustard (roughly 1/4 teaspoon; one of those packets from the burger joint will do in a pinch)
  • (Optional) Grilled or roasted chicken (instructions below if using raw chicken instead)

Medium bowl

Toaster oven (or full oven) with baking tray

Potholder/oven mitt

Salad spinner or paper towels if you aren’t using pre-washed greens

Salad bowl with two large spoons for tossing (or use your hands if feeling adventurous)

Paring knife

Cutting board

Small bowl or jar with lid for making salad dressing


[Optional] Bread knife

If you are making chicken specifically for this recipe, you will also need a small nonstick skillet, a pair of silicone-tipped tongs (or a non-metal spatula), and a container to refrigerate the chicken in between salting and cooking it.


1. If possible, remove chicken from its original packaging and rub salt into the raw meat several hours before cooking. I used one package of chicken tenders, which cook faster than other parts of the bird, and several large pinches of salt. Return the meat to the fridge to sit in the salt until you are ready to cook.

2. Heat two glugs of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

3. When the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan in a single layer and don’t move it around. If you let it sit, it will brown in the oil. (If you are using large pieces such as chicken breasts, you may wish to cut them into smaller pieces before cooking.)

4. When you can see white around the edges of the chicken, use a pair of tongs to flip each piece. You’ll see that the cooked side is a nice golden brown.

5. Continue flipping the meat at intervals until you have brown on both sides and no trace of raw pink interior. If you salted your chicken, it should still be moist inside.

6. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a cutting board. Cut into the thickest part of each piece to check for doneness, or use a meat thermometer. The temperature should register 165ºF and there should be no trace of pink inside the chicken.

7. Let the chicken rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.

8. Slice or tear the meat into bite-sized pieces and add to the rest of the salad.

[Salad instructions follow below:]

1. Tear or slice the bread into small pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl along with a good pinch of salt, a few shakes of garlic powder, and enough olive oil to make sure that each piece of bread gets coated with the seasoning.

2. Spread the bread onto a baking tray (top photo) and toast at around 325ºF until all pieces are lightly browned and crispy but not burnt (second photo). Watch them closely because they will burn easily. Shake a few times midway through cooking to encourage even toasting.

3. While the croutons bake, wash, core, and slice the pear into very thin pieces. It is not necessary to remove the skin.

4. Check on the croutons and remove from the oven if finished.

5. [Optional] Wash and dry the salad greens, if not using pre-washed greens.

6. Keep checking the croutons if they aren’t done yet.

7. Combine greens, pear, raisins, and crumbled feta in a large salad bowl. Toss together once or twice. [Add the chicken at this stage if using. You can choose to serve the chicken either hot or cold.]

8. In a small bowl or jar, combine approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil with an equivalent amount of balsamic vinegar and the mustard (roughly 1/4 teaspoon, a good squirt). Beat together with a fork, or seal the lid on the jar and shake vigorously. If your balsamic vinegar comes out of the jug too quickly and you end up with significantly more vinegar than oil, add extra oil and a dash more mustard until the ratio of oil to vinegar is restored to 1:1.

9. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until the greens and pears are evenly coated with dressing. If you ended up with excess dressing, you can add it little by little. I find that it’s difficult to over-dress this salad if you’re making individual batches of dressing each time, so you’ll probably end up using the entirety of what you have.

10. Add croutons immediately before serving and toss to distribute them. If you add the croutons too early, they will get soggy, so try to time your salad so that it is ready at the same time as the croutons. Add an extra pinch of salt and a dash of garlic powder along with the croutons if you choose.


This salad works as a meal unto itself, and it will be a hit if you have been recruited at the last minute to bring something to a family get-together. Merry Christmas!

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