Pile strawberries and snap peas atop grilled chicken for a fresh approach to a spring salad

To create a compellingly inspiring dish, sometimes all you need to do is approach ordinary ingredients from a different perspective. Take grilled chicken and salad for example. Flipping the usual greens topped with poultry and instead making the chicken the foundation to be crowned with the salad, is just the kind of upside-down thinking that keeps things interesting. When the chicken is pounded thinly, into what's called a paillard as it is here, it becomes an ultra-elegant platform for any seasonal salad to be served as a main course.

It's a setup that inspires me throughout the year with its enticing and healthful possibilities, which is why I have decided to create a chicken paillard salad for each season this year. In this spring edition, the thin chicken cutlet is grilled, then topped with a mound of crisp sugar snap peas and arugula tossed in a lemony dressing, sliced strawberries and toasted almonds.

Running with the idea of approaching ordinary ingredients in a fresh way rather than chop the snap peas or add them whole to the salad, I sliced them thinly lengthwise into a kind of slaw, exposing a lovely cross section of the peas inside each long, oval shaped slice. It takes a little more effort to do this, but it gives you a whole new appreciation of what snap peas - and what chicken and salad for that matter - can become.

Grilled Chicken Paillards With Sugar Snap Pea And Strawberry Salad

If you purchase chicken labeled "thin-cut" or "cutlets" you may be able to skip the pounding step.

3 tablespoons slivered almonds

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Four 5- to 6-ounce pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts

8 ounces fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 cup baby arugula

4 medium strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are golden and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Whisk together the oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the honey, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper in a mixing bowl, to form a smooth (emulsified) dressing.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a large cutting board. Place 2 pieces of the chicken on top and then cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Use a mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken to an even thickness of ¼-inch. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of chicken. Season the chicken with the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Lightly grease a grill pan with cooking oil spray or a little oil, then preheat it over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 1½ to 2 minutes per side, until grill marks have formed and it is just cooked through. Transfer to a plate; drizzle the chicken with the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice.

Cut each sugar snap pea pod lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices, exposing the cut peas inside. Add them (plus any loose peas) and arugula to the bowl with the dressing. Toss gently to coat evenly.

To serve, divide the chicken paillards among individual plates. Top each with a mound of the snap pea salad, then scatter with strawberry slices and toasted almonds. Season lightly with salt.

Serves 4

Nutrition | Per serving: 300 calories, 35 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

(From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.)