Green Salads

Leafy Love, Redux

Raw leafy greens and luscious avocado team up again in a new dinner salad. Vegan, or not - your choice!

Napa Cabbage Slaw

This quick & crisp salad is the foundation for a light and cooling meatless summer meal.

CSA Inspirations

Check out what I've been whipping up from the goodies in my CSA share box!

Cooking For One: Lemon-Tarragon Chicken and Spinach Salad With Beets & Oranges

What do you eat when you eat alone? Sick of cold cereal and yogurts? Treat yourself to this quick but tasty meal for one.

Thinking . . . Spring? Honey-Mustard Chicken, Barley Pilaf and Fruity Baby Spinach Salad With Oranges

Welcome to March! Better weather, lighter food, and the promise of true spring are around the corner . . . .

Easy White Bean & Chicken Salad

christmas decorations

We are in the final 2 weeks before Christmas.  Dunno about you, but we don't even have our tree - D.'s insane travel schedule has kept us from our usual merry-making so far this year.  That's on tap for this weekend - much to L.'s delight.  She is SO ANGRY that we don't have any decorations up - especially since our new neighbors have not one, but TWO giant inflatables in their yard . . . .

All that's to say that it's busy, we're drained, and the temptation is to go for fast food or takeout when the chips are down.  Today's recipe uses all pre-prepared ingredients, even for the chicken, so that you can throw together a delicious, healthy meal with greens and protein (and some extra fiber too) in a snap.   It's not local, it's not fancy or ethnic, but it'll fill you up and you'll feel good after you eat it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

White Bean & Chicken Salad

  2 c. rotisserie chicken, coarsely chopped
1 c. tomato, chopped
1/2 c. red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. sliced fresh basil
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (remember, Eden has no BPA in their can linings)

 

Place all of the above ingredients together in a large bowl and toss to combine.

1/4 c. red wine or sherry vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. table salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
bottled minced garlic, equivalent to 2 garlic cloves
Kosher salt to taste

 

Combine the above ingredients in a jar or small bowl, and drizzle over the salad, tossing gently to coat.  Add additional Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

1 bag/carton of fancy mixed salad greens, or baby spinach if you prefer.

 

Divide the greens among 4 large salad bowls and divide the bean & chicken mixture amongst the bowls, placing it on top of the greens.

Serves 4.

A Fresh Green Salad For Thanksgiving

 pears in bowl

Happy Friday, everyone!  This is my last Thanksgiving-related post, unless I get requests for other dishes . . . what I've listed so far is my hit-parade of annual menu items.  The cooked veg changes from year-to-year (sometimes, my MIL makes a delicious creamy broccoli casserole thingy that's worth the splurge).

Today I'm sharing a nice fall salad recipe that I make on Turkey day.  I have to admit, the salad doesn't get as much play as the other side dishes.  But I happen to love a green salad amongst all the richness.  Don't get me wrong, I love richness too, but a little somethin' to cut the grease is always good.

Cranberry Pear Salad With Candied Walnuts

1/2 c. apricot nectar
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. canola oil
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
12 c. fancy mixed salad greens
3 ripe medium pears, sliced into thin slices
1/2 c. dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 c. blue cheese, crumbled

 

Make the dressing:  in a bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients and set aside. 

Candy the walnuts:  In a heavy skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the walnuts and stir to coat.  Remove from the heat.

Assemble the salad:  In a large salad bowl, combine the green, pears and cranberries.  Drizzle with the dressing.  Add nuts and blue cheese and toss.

Serve immediately.  Yields 12 servings.

Note:  I usually try to pick up some different types of pears for this, some with more brown flesh, some with red . . . makes the salad more colorful!  Also, if you have the wherewithall to plan ahead, get your pears a few days in advance so they'll have time to ripen.  Sweet, juicy pears are best here.

Autumn Pear Salad on Foodista

This Week: Give Lengthy Dinner Prep The Boot!

maxtrax boot

Some of you who know me know that I'm currently sporting this crazy brace - I have terrible tendinitis in my left leg/ankle and this thing is supposed to give my leg a rest and help decrease the inflammation.  The jury's still out on whether it's making any difference in the tendon, but the verdict otherwise is that it's a huge pain in the a** to wear around.  It weighs over 5 lbs. on its own, and comes up to just below my knee.

For some, takeout would be the way to go, but now, more than ever, I want a healthy meal at dinnertime.  I can hardly exercise at all, and, well, I'm "of a certain age" such that exercising is pretty much a necessity - unless I want to show off everything I eat on my lower-half.  So I'm trying to find more convenient dinners that minimize prep but which also emphasize healthy components.  And where do I go for inspiration?  Trader Joe's, of course. 

Here's what I do - I go into the store and hit the protein section first.  I check out the meat/sausage/tofu selection and see what strikes my fancy.  Note:  this is exactly the opposite of the way I usually shop: I usually have a detailed list made up, based on my menu plan for the week.  I am naturally incredibly anal. 

Anyway, I choose however many proteins I need, then double-back to cheese and pick up whatever might go with a particular protein - goat cheese is one I often buy . . . goes well with chicken, also on salads or in a quiche.  Then on to produce (for those of you who're wondering, this is the Memorial Drive, Cambridge TJ's).  Prepared green beans make life easy, as do broccoli florets.  Bagged and pre-prepared mustard/kale/spinach are super handy (although they never have this as an organic option - I buy it anyway).  And bagged mixed baby greens are a good thing to have on hand at all times.  TJ's often has bags of sweet potatoes that contain fairly small potatoes - I love these because it keeps portion sizes sane.  Also in the produce section are the packages of pre-prepped lentils and baby beets - these make great sides. 

Frozen food - there are a plethora of options here, but many have high calorie and/or sodium counts, so I steer clear of many of these things.  The one thing I get fairly regularly is frozen chicken quesadillas - they come two to a package, and one paired with a big salad makes a decent dinner.  I don't really care for their flash-frozen fish or their individually wrapped frozen chicken breasts - for me, the texture is off in both of these.  I have enjoyed some of the Asian frozen stuff in the past, but I don't buy those items regularly, either. 

Not a frozen item, but located above the frozen cases, are lots of yummy cookies and crackers, along with the genius 100 calorie chocolate bars . . . seriously, these are super.  They come in milk and dark varieties, and they might save you from devouring something huge - like a jar of that dark chocolate peanut butter madness I told you about last month.

There's nothing particularly exciting for me in the dairy section - but decent prices on yogurts, eggs, milk, etc.  I often stock up on Fage here.

TJ's has great prices on nuts.  If you stock up, store what you're not using immediately in the fridge - they won't go rancid as quickly.  And also in grocery are my favorite (yet admittedly hardcore) bran muffins - depending on flavor, either 80 or 100 calories per muffin and 12 grams of fiber.  Little fiber bombs, really.  I keep these in the freezer at all times and stick one in the micro for 1 minute to thaw.  Pair this with a bowl of Fage in the a.m. - you'll be rockin' 'til lunchtime.

So . . . what did I make the last few days?  I told you last Friday about how much I was loving the pumpkin butter - still haven't had that on anything but 0% Fage w/the toasted pecans, but it's still lighting my fire.

Wednesdays are soccer practice days for us, and we don't get home until 6:20.  That's super late when your kid needs to hit the rack by 7:30 in order to be a pleasant human the next day, so I nuked two of those chicken quesadillas for me and D and whipped out a bag of mixed baby greens, divided it between two big salad bowls, topped it with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced yellow bell pepper, some cukes on mine (D is a cuke-phobe) and topped it with a tablespoon of light ranch dressing that'd been mixed with 2 tablespoons of hot salsa.  Ole!  (L ate leftover pasta and some cubed baked tofu).  Dinner on the table in 15 minutes flat.

Thursday I topped another ginormous salad with TJ's pre-cooked balsamic chicken breasts - cold and sliced.  More halved cherry tomatoes, more cukes for me and bell pepper andcrumbled bleu cheese for D.  Used Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette on this - not sold at TJ's but a staple in our fridge.

Friday I salt & peppered organic chicken breasts from TJ's  and then basted them with a mixture of the juice of 1/2 lemon, a couple dollops of Dijon mustard, and approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of EVOO.  I threw these in a lightly oiled baking dish and baked them in a 425 oven for about 25 minutes.  Prior to that, I washed and pricked a few of those sweet potatoes and threw them into the oven for about 40 minutes (your time will vary depending on the size of the potato).  I topped those with a little light butter (TJ's sells Balade brand, pretty good), a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice and a drizzle of agave nectar.  I teamed all this up with some steamed pre-prepped green beans topped with a drizzle of garlic EVOO (Annie's brand, from Whole Foods (formerly Conzorio)), a squeeze of lemon juice and salt & pepper.

Other side dish ideas - I've done these in the past but not this week - pair the lentils with some steamed greens and a little drizzle of melted butter and Dijon mustard and you've got a tasty little side.  Or use the beets:  quarter each one and heat them slightly in the microwave.  Then salt & pepper them and crumble a little goat cheese over the top - just delicious and so so easy.

I'll let you know what else I come up with in the coming weeks!

Another Summer Menu Idea

recipe box full size

It's not over 'til it's over, right guys?  There is still more time to grill, enjoy eating alfresco and to savor some summery weather.  This menu has been top-of-mind lately because I made it for a family celebration of my daughter's August birthday last year.  My husband, in particular, found it mind-blowing - in fact, the salad here is what turned him into a fresh fig lover.  Serve it up to people you love, and treat them to a last, fresh taste of summer.

For a main course, this Rosemary Chicken Skewers With Berry Sauce recipe from Simply Recipes is simple to prepare, but looks and tastes like it took much more effort.  The sauce is very delicious.

For starch, this Couscous Salad with Dates and Almonds, from Bon Appetit has a nice sweet/savory thing going on.   I use whole wheat couscous to amp up the nutrition and protein and I also make double the dressing - I find I need more than the amount called for in the recipe (but not the entire doubled amount) to dress the salad.

For greens, this Late Summer Salad is an adaptation of a recipe from the Fields Of Greens Cookbook by Annie Somerville.  It is a beautiful composed salad that makes a striking presentation for your guests.

Late Summer Salad 

2 handfuls of baby spinach
Orange Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 small cantaloupe
8-10 ripe fresh organic Black Mission figs
1 T. pine nuts, toasted

 

Wash the spinach and dry it in a salad spinner.  Arrange it on a serving platter.  Make the vinaigrette. 

Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeeds, then thinly slice and peel, following the contour of the rind.  Rinse the figs and pat dry.  Cut them into halves or quarters.

Arrange the melon and figs atop the spinach.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the fruit and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Serves 4 - this can easily be doubled - just use a medium cantaloupe.

Orange Vinaigrette

1/4 t. minced orange zest
2 T. fresh orange juice
1/2 T. Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
1/4 t. salt
3 T. olive oil

 

Combine everything but the oil in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil.  Makes 1/3 cup, but again, can be easily doubled.

What I'm Loving: 8.25.09

I don't think this is going to get me any fan press out on the 'net, but I have been completely digging cantaloupes this year - so much so that I have been eating about 1 entire melon per day, on average.  Cantaloupes are a nutritional powerhouse, with very few calories.  A cup of cubed fruit has more than a day's worth of vitamin A, nearly a day's allowance of vitamin C, 12% of your daily potassium needs, and 9% of a day's folate.  And all this for the low-low price of 50 calories, folks!  Even bestsellers like apples, pears, and bananas have at least 100 calories.

I have been just cubing these super-sweeties up and eating them for dessert or a juicy snack, maybe combining them with some fat-free Fage, but there are some creative ideas in the latest issue of CSPI's Nutrition Action Health Letter:

  • Spritz the chunks with lemon or lime juice, and eat as-is.  Lime sounds particularly good to me.
  • I never would've thought of this - top the 'loupe with shaved Parmesan and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar.  That sounds really interesting - I'm going to try that one today. 
  • Another one with cheese - fill half a melon with low-fat cottage cheese and a sprinkle of toasted sunflower seeds - yum! 
  • Cube it and serve it over a bed of mixed greens and some goat cheese, tossed with a red wine vinaigrette.  Another fruity salad - you know I've been lovin' up on those this summer.

Are you loving cantaloupe?  How are you eating it?

Fruity Green Salad

I think it was my sister-in-law who turned me on to green salads with fruit in them.  Until I'd had her spinach salad with strawberries, I'd always been a salad-traditionalist of sorts - salads were savory, and for me, eaten after my main course (unless, of course, a salad was my main course, which it often is).

But there is something interesting and tempting about a salad loaded with both greens and fruit, and maybe some nuts and dried fruits too, with a slightly sweet dressing.  For me, they're always slightly unexpected, but enjoyable.

I tried this on Saturday night, and we liked it.  It incorporates fresh figs, which we "discovered" last summer.  I ate dried figs as a kid, but as a grownup I hadn't regularly eaten fresh figs, and certainly never cooked with them.  If they are ripe, they can be very tasty.  If they aren't (they'll be very firm), they won't be.  And sometimes they're really mushy and over-ripe, in which case they're awful.  So see if you can man-handle your figs a bit before you commit to a basket.  I also try to find organic ones, and then I just wash them and slice them with the peel intact.

Green Salad With Figs, Grapes & Pine Nuts

One package mixed greens (approximately 5-6 ounces)
2/3 c. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
8 fresh figs, cut into rounds, and then quartered
1 c. red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 c. dried sweetened cranberries (dried cherries would be great, too)
1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted*

 

Dressing

1/4 c. orange muscat champagne vinegar (mine is from Trader Joe's, you could use regular champagne vinegar)
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c. good extra-virgin olive oil
2 t. white sugar
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. water
1 shallot, minced

*To toast your pine nuts, put them into a small, dry skillet and stir them constantly over low heat - they'll toast quickly, so watch them!  Let them cool before you add them to your salad.

For dressing:  combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine (or use an old spaghetti sauce jar - add all ingredients and shake vigorously - this is my fool-proof method).  This makes about twice as much dressing as you will need for the salad - so you can either halve the recipe, or keep the leftovers in the fridge for about a week).

For salad:  toss all ingredients in a large bowl, dress with prepared dressing to taste.

Serves 4 as a side-salad.

Some tips:  Pine nuts are expensive, and because of their high oil content, they spoil more quickly than your other nuts.  Trader Joe's has great prices on nuts generally, and also on dried fruits.  Buy a large bag of nuts and use what you need - keep the rest in the refrigerator and they won't go rancid as quickly.

Turned on by sweet dressings?  Newman's Own makes a good light raspberry walnut vinaigrette that is a staple at our house - try tossing it with mixed greens, crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries and then topping it with a sliced grilled chicken breast (here again, TJ's can be a time-saver - their already-grilled chicken breasts are pretty darn good (no weird texture) and don't have any crazy sauces on them.  The balsamic ones are my favorite, but lemon-pepper and plain grilled are great, too.  Voila!  If you used bagged salad greens and the pre-cooked chicken, you now have a healthy and summery main-course in less time than it takes to order take-out!

Quick & Fruity Summer Salad

We're on vacation by the sea, and while for some that means endless fried seafood plates, we still cook at home many nights.  Part of it stems from practicality and selfishness:  with a young child, eating at home is just easier some nights.  And part of it stems from healthfulness and food-snobbery.  There just isn't that much good food on Cape Cod, and a lot of what tastes good just isn't great for you.

After years of doing this, I've come up with a system.  Before we leave home, I designate one cookbook to bring with us.  It has to have mostly easy recipes, and ones that don't require too many ingredients, especially "exotic" ingredients.  Think about your average summer rental - not a lot of cumin, allspice, hoisin, etc. lying around.  I'm willing to buy some condiments and spices (and I bring a few things with me, like harissa - more to come on that), but I want recipes with only a few ingredients, most of which I'm going to buy fresh.

This year I brought down the Better Homes & Gardens New Dieter's Cookbook.  I got this at TJMaxx for $5.99 a while ago on a whim, and I have to tell you, it's been a great little find.  All the recipes are easy, they're short, they've got some interesting and creative combinations of ingredients, and what's more, they're healthful.  You may remember the spicy sesame chicken recipe I posted a while back - that's from this cookbook.  It's not gourmet in any sense of the word, but I've probably made 15 dishes from this and we haven't found a loser yet.

Tonight's salad was a big hit.  It makes a perfect light summer supper.  I adapted it a bit, so this is not verbatim from the cookbook.

Chicken & Stone Fruit Salad

1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
salt and pepper to taste
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 plums, pitted and sliced
juice of one lemon
1/2 c. non-fat lemon yogurt
one scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 t poppy seeds
mixed fancy salad greens

Sprinkle the tenderloins with salt & pepper and set on a broiler pan.  Broil on high for a few minutes on each side until cooked through, then remove and set out to cool while you prepare the remainder of the salad.

Meanwhile, combine the sliced peaches and plums in a medium bowl.  Add 1/2 the lemon juice and toss them gently to coat.  For the dressing, combine the yogurt, green onion, poppy seeds and the remaining juice of the lemon.  Stir.

Divide greens amongst four dinner plates.  Arrange the fruit atop the greens, then layer chicken tenders on top of the fruit.  Drizzle each salad with the dressing.  Serve immediately.