Tag Archives: chicken

Grape orange and chicken salad

Grape, orange, and chicken salad

I made this salad as a side salad, without the chicken, for a dinner. I really liked the combination and thought it would make a great main course salad with the addition of some chicken breast.

The honey-lime vinaigrette is a distinctive contribution to this salad that I think really makes it work. I find it always helps to heat the honey a bit in the microwave to make it thinner before adding to the dressing. And with honey, I always shake the dressing in a small jar to mix rather than trying to whisk it.

I think a mixture of greens with some texture works well for this salad. I used the Champs Elysees mix from Trader Joe’s with green leaf lettuce, frisee, radicchio, and carrots.

Grape, orange, and chicken salad

cooked chicken breast, sliced or cut into smaller pieces
red seedless grapes
mandarin oranges
sliced almonds
mixed greens

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper

Arrange all of the ingredients for the salad on the plate. Shake in a small jar the oil, lime juice, honey, mustard, and pepper. Spoon over the salad.

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Asparagus chicken and penne salad

Asparagus, chicken, and penne salad

Here’s a light, refreshing pasta salad that still has enough substance to make it a meal. It is simple and easy to make and very flavorful.

The idea for this salad, like some of my other pasta salads, came from the deli section of the supermarket where I shopped back in Indiana. They had a large selection of interesting pasta salads which I looked over as I waited for meat to be sliced. I never actually bought any of the salads for a number of reasons: Most did not have meat or seafood, and I was interested in pasta salads as a main course. I’m sure their salads had too much salt. And if I made the salad myself, I could include more of the good stuff, as with this salad. More asparagus, less pasta.

I usually have clear preferences for the types of pasta to be used for each of my salads. The shrimp pasta salad needed the tri-color rotini to go with the colors of the shrimp, scallions, and green and red pepper. Farfalla seems to have the right shape to go with the pieces of romaine in the pasta Caesar salad. And for this salad, the shape of the pieces of asparagus absolutely requires the penne pasta.

Asparagus, chicken, and penne salad

1 cup cooked chicken breast in bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup penne pasta
1–1/2 cups asparagus, 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 small or 1/2 clove garlic, pressed
1/8 teaspoon herbes de Provence
fresh ground pepper

freshly grated Parmesan

Some time before serving, cook the pasta following package directions. Drain and rinse.

Put the asparagus into boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and keep green color.

Put pasta, asparagus, and chicken in a bowl and chill.

When ready to serve, whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices. Pour over salad and mix. Put the salad on the serving plate and top with freshly grated Parmesan.

Balsamic brussel sprout and chicken salad

Balsamic brussel sprout and chicken salad

I wanted to try a salad with brussel sprouts in place of the traditional lettuce. I have seen bags of shaved brussel sprouts in several stores, making this very easy. (You could, of course, cut up whole brussel sprouts. If using a mandolin, watch your fingers!) Having had brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar, I immediately thought of a balsamic vinaigrette as the dressing. I made the same dressing I used for the beet salad.

For an additional vegetable both for variety in taste and for appearance, I chose radishes. Brussel sprouts are strongly flavored. I wanted something that could stand up and complement that.

Likewise, for the chicken I chose to use the thighs as being more full-flavored than the breasts. And a balsamic and honey sauce continued the tastes from the rest of the salad.

Balsamic brussel sprout and chicken salad

1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (depending on size and appetite)
olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

shaved brussel sprouts
radishes, sliced

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

Heat olive oil in a pan. Cook the chicken thigh(s) until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and let it rest for a few minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken back in the pan with the balsamic vinegar and honey. Heat through, turning the chicken pieces so they are thoroughly coated with the balsamic and honey.

Combine shaved brussel sprouts with most of the sliced radishes. Shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, and pepper. Pour as much as desired over the brussel sprouts and radishes and toss to get everything coated with the dressing. Top the brussel sprouts with a few radish slices as a garnish, drizzling additional vinaigrette over the radishes. Add the chicken.

Asian tostada

Asian tostada

After having the idea of using hummus instead of refried beans to make a tostada, producing my Greek tostada, the floodgates opened as I then thought up all sorts of other tostada variants using every type of bean I could think of. This is my next creation, using edamame atop the tortillas. Naturally, this led me to develop an Asian-themed tostada.

When I first had the idea of using edamame, I wasn’t sure in what form I wanted to include it on the tostada. I considered leaving the beans whole or mashing them with a fork or potato masher. As I often do when I am looking for inspiration, I went online and started looking at recipes including edamame. I found a number of recipes for edamame dip. (Interestingly, they all want you to serve it with pita chips.) They all took pretty much the same approach, with variations on quantities and flavoring. But all involved processing the edamame in a food processor with olive oil and some type of citrus juice. So I went from there. Then there’s the questions of how thoroughly you want to process the edamame. I chose to do it enough so that all the beans were chopped up but leaving some texture to the resulting dip/spread. Obviously one can do more or less to taste.

I chose to do a soy-ginger vinaigrette, which I have made for the Asian salad, among others. When I made these and wanted fresh ginger for other recipes, I have used Gourmet Garden ginger paste that comes in a plastic tube, which I have found works well, is very convenient, and can keep in the refrigerator for a significant length of time. Sadly, my market no longer seems to carry the tubes of ginger, though they carry many other types. Then I noticed next to that a small container of lightly dried ginger from the same company. They claimed this would be refreshed in liquid. The ginger flavor it gave to the vinaigrette was fine, but I wasn’t especially impressed with the texture. I think the next time I need fresh ginger, if I can’t find the paste in a tube, I’ll have to get over my laziness, buy a piece of ginger, and grate it.

Asian tostada

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
i small clove garlic, pressed
fresh ground pepper

1 piece of boneless chicken breast in small bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
vegetable oil

2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil

baby spinach, chopped
mushrooms
3–4 scallions, sliced, including lots of the green portions

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed (not all of a large clove)

Earlier in the day combine the edamame, olive oil, garlic, and about 1 tablespoon of the lime juice in a food processor and process until it gets to your desired texture, maybe 30 seconds. or so. Add more lime juice and process a bit more to get desired flavor and consistency. I made mine so it retained some texture and wasn’t completely smooth, but it’s your choice. Refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator a half hour to an hour before making the salad so it is not icy cold and is closer to room temperature.

Heat the oil and cook the chicken until nicely browned and cooked through. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger, and pepper and add to the chicken. Cook several minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and turns dark and shiny.

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 the edamame mixture. Put the spinach, mushrooms, and scallions on the edamame, reserving much of the green parts of the scallions. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad. Put the chicken pieces scattered on the salad and top with the remaining green parts of the scallions.

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.

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.