Jerk Chicken Salad with Pineapple Pico de Gallo

Today’s recipe has a couple inspirations.  First was this month’s Cook the Books Club novel: Love and Saffron.  Here’s my review:

Love & Saffron
Love & Saffron by Kim Fay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that is simply "ok". There's nothing wrong with it (yes, Immy's storyline was very predictable and Joan's was a bit odd) but it's not a super captivating page turner either.

It's what I would normally call a slow read (not in a bad way). Written through a series of letters, the reader gets to know the characters a bit and more and more about them is slowly unraveled. Now, I say it's a slow read but due to a bout of insomnia, I finished it in a day (and it didn't put me to sleep, so there's that!)

So, if you like leisurely historical fiction books with lots of foodie inspiration and a couple recipes, this is the book for you.

View all my reviews

Not my favorite book but not awful either.  The interesting foodie aspect in this historical fiction (1960’s Pacific Northwest) was the character Imogen (Immy) as she begins to explore new flavors.  I was fascinated by the fact that things like garlic and lime juice were exotic to her and had to fact check.  I found that indeed, while garlic was likely cultivated  in North America in the 1920’s (brought over by European immigrants), it did not reach the popularity we see today until the late 1980’s.  Interesting!

Of the more “exotic” (for the time at least) recipes mentioned in the book, Jamaican Jerk Chicken stood out.  A few months ago, Hubs and I took a long overdue trip (just us, no kids) to Daytona Beach, FL.  After an afternoon  of beach walking, we had dinner at a beachside restaurant with deck seating and live music and I ordered a Jerk Chicken Salad.  It was delicious and perfect after walking for a few hours!

With the further inspiration from the book, I decided to recreate that salad at home!  The home version, like the restaurant version, is great because the Pineapple Pico and honey mustard dressing tame down the spice of the jerk chicken for a perfectly balanced flavor profile.

Recipe Note

-Scotch Bonnet Peppers are traditional, however habanero peppers are an acceptable substitute

-Avocado would be a great addition to this salad - I had planned on adding it, but unfortunately, the avocado I had on hand failed to ripen in time for this meal.

Jerk Chicken Salad with Pineapple Pico de Gallo

Jerk Chicken

Adapted from Serious Eats

1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

2-3 whole habanero peppers

½ small onion, cut in wedges

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon black pepper

⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce

Juice & zest from 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons olive oil

Pineapple Pico de Gallo

Adapted from Mexico in my Kitchen

1 cup pineapple, diced

1 roma tomato, diced (seeds discarded)

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

¼ cup diced onion

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon lime juice

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Honey Mustard Dressing

Adapted from A Pinch of Yum

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon mayo

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

¾ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Pinch of cayenne pepper


Inspired by Riptides Raw Bar & Grill

Spinach or mixed greens

Sliced cucumbers

Sliced avocado

Jerk chicken (recipe above)

Pineapple Pico de Gallo (recipe above)

Honey Mustard Dressing (recipe above)

Place chicken breasts in a zipper bag.  Place the remaining chicken marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until combined.  Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal.  Refrigerate from 6-18 hours to marinate.

Preheat an outdoor grill.  Cook the chicken over medium heat until cooked through.  Rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Stir together the Pineapple Pico de Gallo ingredients and set aside.  Whisk together the Honey Mustard ingredients and set aside.

To make the salads, place spinach/greens into bowls.  Top with pico de gallo, cucumbers, chicken, and dressing.  Serve immediately.


  1. Great recipe Amy. I finished it in one day as well but I didn't have insomnia. I can always fall asleep, it is staying asleep that eludes me LOL.

  2. Thank you for joining in Amy! Sorry the book wasn't a favorite (at least it didn't put you to sleep) but it looks like it helped inspire you to make a delicious salad. ;-)

  3. I haven't had jerk chicken in so long. I will have to remedy that soon. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. It sounds perfect for this muggy weather we''re having. Salad and with that spicy chicken.

  5. Jerk Chicken and Pico de Gallo sounds like a great dish for a muggy day as Claudia has already said. Thankfully that weather has ended for us now in the Mid-Atlantic

  6. What a nice plate! I am wondering what else would taste good with the marinade for the chicken :)


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