Tag Archives: balsamic

Beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and chicken

Beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and chicken

This is my take on a classic salad. The combination of ingredients is hardly original, though I haven’t seen chicken added to make it a main-course salad. I liked the dressing I came up with, a vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, honey, and a generous amount of Dijon mustard. I think it went well here and I plan on making it for other salads. One note: I have absolutely decided that for any vinaigrette that includes honey, putting the ingredients in a jar and shaking to combine is the only way to go. Especially with the small quantity involved for a salad for one, trying to whisk the ingredients together is just too difficult.

A few other comments: I don’t give a quantity for the number of beets to use because they vary so much in size. I happened to get quite small ones and used three, but with some very large beets one would be more than enough. The same goes for how to cut the beets for the salad. With my small beets, cutting them into wedges gave pieces that were a good size and looked nice. But a large beet would have to either be diced or sliced and then the slices cut into wedges. Likewise, the length of time required for roasting will obviously depend on the size.

For the walnuts, I used the plain toasted shelled walnuts. If you like candied nuts, go ahead, but that’s not my thing. Also, I suggest going with the “whole” walnuts, not the chopped. I used the quotes because numbers of the pieces were broken, which was fine. Indeed, I broke the whole pieces in half for the salad. But I think this is better than the smaller chopped pieces.

Beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and chicken

olive oil

spring mix lettuce
cooked chicken breast, in bite-sized pieces
goat cheese

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F for roasting the beets. (If you have an uncooked chicken breast, you can bake it at the same time.) Wash the beets and cut off most of the stems, leaving about an inch. Place the beets on a sheet of foil (I used 2 layers), sprinkle on a little olive oil and a bit of salt and roll the beets in the oil to coat. Wrap the foil tightly and put the beets in the oven. The beets are done when a knife goes in easily when you pierce a beet. You can do this through the foil without unwrapping and just put them back in the oven if they need more time. The small beets I had were done in 45 minutes. Larger beets could take an hour.

After taking the beets out of the oven, wait until the beets are cool enough to handle. Cut off the top and bottom of each beet. Remove the skins. It may work to use paper towels to rub the skins off, or you may have to use a knife to peel. I would suggest doing this right over the foil package and using disposable gloves–everything is going to get very red! Cut the beets into bite-sized pieces for the salad, doing this on a papper plate, a piece of parchment paper, or something else disposable rather than staining your cutting board.

I would suggest having this done an hour or two before you make the salad, leaving the beets and chicken out at room temperature.

Assemble the salad, putting the beets, chicken, and walnuts on the lettuce. Shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, and pepper. Pour over the salad. Add small pieces of goat cheese.

Balsamic brussel sprout frittata

Balsamic brussel sprout frittata

This frittata was inspired by the brussel sprouts my daughter made as the vegetable for a Thanksgiving dinner. It has a very unique flavor, distinctly different from any other frittata that I’ve made.

Balsamic brussel sprout frittata

1–1/2 to 2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup brussel sprouts, stems and outer leaves removed and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 eggs

Cook the bacon in the skillet until crisp, remove and drain on a paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.

Cook the brussel sprouts in the bacon fat over medium heat for about 4 minutes until they start to brown. Since I like the brussel sprouts only lightly browned, I then add a bit of water and cook for another 4 minutes. I add a tablespoon at a time, with more when the water cooks off. If you want the brussel sprouts browned more, don’t add the water and just keep on cooking. Be sure all of the water is cooked off and add the bacon and the balsamic vinegar. Cook for about another minute to combine the flavors.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. The remains of the bacon fat in the pan should be sufficient, so let the pan get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the brussel sprout, bacon, and balsamic vinegar mixture into the eggs and pour this into the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Balsamic chicken salad

Balsamic chicken salad

I have often made chicken breast with balsamic vinegar and basil as an entree. It occurred to me that this would also be a good focal point for a salad. The chicken here is made exactly the same way as for the entree, with the exception of the final step. For the entree, I serve the breast whole, with the sauce over the top. I think the salad is made easier to eat by slicing the breast and mixing the slices back into the sauce before placing on the salad.

The dressing for this is an easy call: It has to be a balsamic vinaigrette.

Then the question of what else to put on the salad. As an entree, I would serve the chicken with a starch–rice, potato, whatever–and a vegetable, preferrably something nice and green. Salade Nicoise! That includes potatoes and haricots verts, the thin, tender green beans. I decided that would also work nicely here.

One could substitute regular green beans for the haricots verts, but the latter are so much better. Try to find them. Trader Joe’s generally has them, so if you have one close, go there. For the potatoes, I use very small (around 1-inch) red potatoes, but go with small potatoes you like and can find. Amounts of both will depend on your appetite.

The potatoes and haricots verts could be served on the salad either cold or still warm. I have always had them chilled, but I think warm would work as well. If you want them cool, you will have to cook them at least an hour or so before so they can cool down in the refrigerator. If warm, cook them first so they can cool down a bit while you make the chicken.

Balsamic chicken salad

1 chicken breast (or piece of one the size you would like)
olive oil
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

small potatoes
haricots verts
butter lettuce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon herbs de Provence
fresh ground pepper

Put potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until just tender, so a fork can be inserted easily. This will take something around 15 minutes, but use the fork test and start checking earlier. Drain the potatoes. Before finishing the salad, cut them in half or whatever seems appropriate for eating, given their size.

For the haricots verts, bring a pot with plenty of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook until they are just starting to get tender, 2 to 4 minutes, 2 for very crisp to 4 for tender crisp. You can take one out and check, but they will become a little more tender after you strain and rinse them, so stop on the crisp side. When cooked, strain and run cold water over them. This not only cools them down and helps to stop the cooking but also helps keep the nice green color.

If the chicken breast is very thick, you may want to pound it somewhat thinner for cooking. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When heated, add the chicken breast with some fresh ground pepper. You may then want to turn the heat down a bit. Cook for about 5 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 5 minutes and continue as needed until the chicken is just cooked through. It should read 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and no longer be pink when you slice into the thickest part.

When the chicken breast is done, turn down the heat. Add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and basil. Stir to mix the ingredients and coat the chicken breast. Cook for about a minute or so to combine the flavors, turning the chicken breast once so both sides get immersed in the sauce. Take the chicken breast out and slice it crossways into pieces about 1/4-inch wide. Put the pieces back in the pan and mix to coat them with the sauce. The chicken is now ready for the salad.

Whisk together or shake in a jar the oil, balsamic vinegar, and other ingredients for the vinaigrette. Put the lettuce on a plate. Mix the potatoes and haricots verts with some of the vinaigrette to coat them. Spoon the rest of the vinaigrette over the lettuce. Add the chicken, potatoes, and haricots verts to the salad.