Grilled chicken salads are a dime a dozen. What sets this one apart is an unusual and fabulous vinaigrette made with cranberries, orange juice and walnut oil. The various components of the salad can be prepared a day ahead of time, allowing quick assembly just prior to serving.
For the vinaigrette: Cook the cranberries with the orange juice and sugar over medium heat until they soften. Set aside to cool. When cool, transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and purée. Add the mustard, honey, vinegar and shallots, and pulse to blend. With the machine running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream to emulsify the dressing. Keep refrigerated until serving time.
For the sugared nuts: Place the walnuts in a large skillet and toast lightly over low heat for 5 minutes. The skillet must accommodate all the nuts in one layer; watch carefully so the walnuts don't burn. When they're hot on both sides, sprinkle the nuts with the sugar, raise the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the sugar melts and coats the nuts. Spread the walnuts on a plate to cool.
For the salad: Lightly pound the chicken breasts between sheets of wax paper until they're all a consistent thickness. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken on a hot barbecue and set aside to cool slightly. If you're grilling the chicken a day or two in advance of serving, reheat them for a minute in your microwave to warm the meat before assembling the salad.
Place the lettuce in a large bowl and toss with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette. Add more as needed. Divide the lettuce between 4 large plates.
Cut the chicken into attractive strips and arrange in a spoke pattern atop the lettuce. Garnish each plate with 2 tablespoons of cheese and 2 tablespoons of candied walnuts. Drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the chicken and serve immediately.