Tag Archives: chicken

Pasta Caesar salad

Pasta Caesar salad

The idea for this salad comes from a horse show. When my daughter was growing up, she competed at horse shows (hunter/jumper/equitation). Horse shows are all-day affairs (and multiple days for the larger shows). So obviously people need something to eat during the day. While the very largest shows attracted multiple outside food vendors, most of the shows had a small snack shop with very limited (and very often uninspired) offerings.

One of the shows we went to, in Tennessee, had some of the better food, much of which was homemade. And one item on the menu was pasta Caesar salad. It consisted of pasta and romaine lettuce mixed with standard bottled Caesar dressing, topped with a few croutons. This became an instant favorite for us. It was such a nice change from the normal horse-show fare–good to have something fresh.

For this pasta Caesar salad, I add chicken to the pasta (farfalla) and romaine to make a main-course salad. It has Parmesan cheese freshly grated over the top. The croutons have to be freshly made, with garlic-infused olive oil, the same as the croutons for my salmon Caesar salad. For the dressing, I make a lemon vinaigrette with olive oil, including Worcestershire sauce, exactly the same ingredients used in the classic Ceasar salad described by Julia Child (except, of course, the egg is not included).

Pasta Caesar salad

1 cup small cubes of Fremch bread (or other similar, firm bread)
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1–2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

4–6 ounces cooked chicken breast, in bite-sized pieces
1 cup or a little less cooked farfalla (about 2/3 cup or so uncooked)
2 cups romaine lettuce, cut into fairly small pieces
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4–5 drops Worcestershire sauce
fresh ground pepper

Cook the farfalla in advance so it can cool. This would also be a good time to make the croutons.

I have two different approaches for incorporating the garlic with the olive oil for making the croutons. The quick way is to mince the garlic and put it in the pan with the olive oil as you start heating the pan. This works, but leaves small dark bits of garlic at the end. The more time-consuming approach is to put the garlic, minced or pressed, into a small bowl with the olive oil. Mash the garlic in the olive oil with the back of a spoon for at least a minute or so to infuse the olive oil with the garlic. Then strain the olive oil into the pan, leaving the garlic in the bowl.

Heat the olive oil and garlic (however included) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and start turning them over with a spatula and wooden spoon to get the bread coated with the garlic-infused olive oil. It may seem like the bread is getting a little soggy with the oil, but don’t worry, this is part of getting them set up to brown and turn into the tasty croutons. Keep turning the croutons over frequently. You don’t have to do this continuously, but you need to turn them over a lot because you want the bread to brown on all sides, and this isn’t like when you’re cooking a few flat things and can just turn them over once to cook the other side. After a few minutes, the croutons will start to brown. I’ll be turning them more frequently at this point to be sure the croutons brown on all sides. Stay with them because it now goes very quickly. When they are lightly browned and toasty—a couple of the croutons may even start to look a little darker—remove the pan from the stove and put the croutons into a dish. (They’ll cook more if left in the pan.)

Mix the farfalla, romaine, and chicken in a bowl. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, lemon juice, Worcester sauce, and fresh ground pepper. Pour over the salad and toss so everything is coated with the vinaigrette. Put the salad on the serving plate. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top and add the croutons.

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Greek chicken tostada

Greek chicken tostada

The idea for this salad came from a (very Mexican) tostada I had for lunch recently at the Huntington Library and Gardens near Pasadena. Most tostadas top the tortillas with the standard refried beans made with pinto beans. This tostada used black beans instead, making it distinctive and very good.

This got me thinking about whether some other types of beans might also be used to make a tostada. How about garbonzo beans/chickpeas? And you can buy this with the beans already mashed up and seasoned, ready to use: hummus.

Once I decided to make a tostada with hummus, an Eastern Mediterranean theme was obvious. I chose Greek, with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, but I wanted something else. Since I was already using one dip from that part of the world, I thought about tzatziki, the Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce/dip, which I really like. But it didn’t seem to be quite right putting dollops of tzatziki on the tostada. Instead, I put cucumber pieces on the salad and made a dressing based on the ingredients in tzatziki.

I started the dressing with my standard vinaigrette ingredients of 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, to which I added 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. This produces a slightly thickened dressing that you might call a tzatziki vinaigrette and would be one option. I decided I wanted a thicker, creamier dressing more like tzatziki and added a third tablespoon of yogurt and then a fourth. My suggestion is to proceed in this way, stopping when you get a consistency that you like.

I think the key to this salad is moderation and balance. You don’t want too much of any one ingredient such that it dominates.

Greek chicken tostada

4- or 5-ounce piece of chicken breast
2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
hummus
spinach, chopped
1 cup (or so) cucumber, in small pieces
Kalamata olives, cut in half
feta cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 to 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill

Bake the chicken breast in advance. When cool, pull it apart to make shredded chicken.

So the dressing can be well chilled, an hour or so before serving, mix the olive oil, lemon juice garlic, dill, and the yogurt. Start with 2 tablespoons yogurt and whisk everthing together to see the consistency. If desired, add more yogurt to get your preferred consistency. Refrigerate the dressing, as it should be well-chilled before serving.

Going in the other direction on temperature, I think the hummus and chicken, which will top the cooked tortillas, should be closer to room temperature, so take them out of the refrigerator an hour or so before making the salad.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of hummus. Add the shredded chicken, then the chopped spinach, and on top of that the cucumber pieces.

Whisk the previously made dressing and spoon on top the salad. Top with a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese and the Kalamata olives.

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

beets
olive oil
salt

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

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.

Chicken adobo salad

Chicken adobo salad

Chicken adobo is often called the national dish of the Phillipines. The chicken is cooked with soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. I thought this would be good for a salad.

The first recipe I found when looking for ideas online said that a distinctive aspect of adobo chicken is that the chicken is cooked in the liquid first and then browned at the end. This is just the opposite of many dishes such as chicken fricasee and coq au vin where the chicken is browned first. But other recipes did have you browning the chicken first, and still others didn’t brown at all. I decided to cook in the liquid and then finish with a quick browning under the broiler.

Then came the the question of what to do with the rest of the salad. I know nothing about Filipino cuisine, so back to Google for ideas. I found recipes for just about any kind of salad, many using familiar ingredients. I saw several recipes that combined cucumbers and carrots, both in a straight cucumber salad (with red onions) and in a slaw, with cabbage. I thought these would go well.

Vinegar is a primary ingredient for the dressings for some cucumber salads, so having the cucumber with the adobo chicken with the vinegar was a good choice. To emphasize the vinegar on the salad, I altered the proportions for my dressing, using equal amounts of oil and the soy-vinegar mixture from the chicken.

Chicken adobo salad

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
5–6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
fresh ground pepper

spring mix lettuce and spinach
cucumber, sliced thin
carrots, sliced thin
red onion, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Put the chicken thighs in a pan with the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken over once about half way through.

Remove the chicken thighs. Place them under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to brown. Then let them rest a few minutes before slicing.

Take 2 tablespoons of the soy-vinegar cooking liquid and combine with the oil for the dressing. Boil the remainder of the liquid down by at least half, until it starts to thicken, to concentrate the sauce for spooning over the chicken.

Arrange the cucumber, carrots, and onions on the lettuce and spinach. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil and soy-vinegar mixture. Spoon the dressing over the salad.

Slice the chicken. Place in the middle of the salad. Spoon the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken.

Chicken artichoke farfalla salad

Chicken artichoke farfalla salad

This is another one of my favorite pasta salads. It has the same ingredients as the artichoke and sun-dried tomato salad posted earlier, just substituting the farfalla for the lettuce. Actually, the idea for this combination came first for this pasta salad. I later adapted it to make the other salad.

Chicken artichoke farfalla salad

slightly less than 1 cup farfalla
1 cup cooked chicken breast, bite-sized pieces
1/2 large can artichoke hearts, cut into quarters or sixths
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon herbs de provence
3 tablespooons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cook the farfalla as instructed on the package, drain, and rinse to cool (or cook earlier and cool in refrigerator).

Combined the ingredients and toss to mix.

Teriyaki chicken salad

Teriyaki chicken salad

I always like pineapple with teriyaki chicken, so that was my starting point for this salad. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for their fuller flavor, but you could certainly use a piece of chicken breast instead. For the dressing, a vinaigrette with teriyaki sauce was an obvious choice. I included honey, as I felt that the sweetness would work well with the rest of the salad.

Teriyaki chicken salad

1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, depending on size and appetite
teriyaki sauce

baby spinach
mushrooms, sliced
scallions, sliced, including plenty of the green part

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed, or 1/2 of a large clove
fresh ground pepper

Marinate chicken thighs in teriyaki sauce in a plastic bag for an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs on a rack in a baking pan. Brush on bit more of the teriyaki sauce. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn on broiler and place the chicken under broiler for about 3 minutes to further brown to tops and finish cooking. Watch closely to not burn. Check that the thighs are cooked through by slicing in or reading a temperature of 160 to 165 on an instant-read thermometer. The thermometer is likely to be practical only for thicker thighs, inserted from the side into the middle. If not cooked through, you can just leave them in the oven for a few more minutes.

You want to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing, so there is no need to start the final assembly of the salad before you take the chicken out.

Put mushrooms and scallions on the spinach, reserving some of the green parts. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, honey, teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic, and fresh ground pepper. Pour over the salad. Slice the chicken thighs and place in the middle of the salad. Top the chicken with the remaining green parts of the scallions. Put chunks of pineapple on the salad.

Barbecue chicken salad

Barbecue chicken salad

From barbecue chicken to barbecue chicken pizza to barbecue chicken frittata to barbecue chicken salad. My wife thought I was being terribly derivative and uncreative. I think there’s something to be said for adapting an idea from one type of food to another totally different type of food. You decide.

The ingredients are essentially the same as for the barbecue chicken frittata, substituting the lettuce for the eggs.

I struggled with the dressing for this salad. My first thought was to make a barbecue vinaigrette, adding perhaps a tablespoon of barbecue sauce to a vinaigrette, and carrying the barbecue sauce flavor throughout the salad. Then I thought that this would be too much, that a nice creamy vinaigrette would contrast nicely with the barbecue-sauced chicken. I even contemplated the idea of making the salad with half of each, to see which I liked better. I finally came up with the idea of making the creamy vinaigrette with a small amount of barbecue sauce. I liked the way this worked.

Barbecue chicken salad

1 cup cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
barbecue sauce, enough to coat the chicken breast pieces

romaine lettuce
red onion, thinly sliced
olives, sliced
1/3 to 1/2 cup smoked Gouda, cut into pieces (I did a fat julienne)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1–1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon barbecue sauce
fresh ground pepper

Mix the chicken with enough barbecue sauce to coat.

Put the onions and olives on the romaine. Whisk, or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, barbecue sauce, and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the salad.

Put the chicken in the middle and the smoked Gouda around the sides.