Lemon Chicken & Zucchini Salad

Lemon Chicken & Zucchini Salad

This is not really a time-intensive recipe, but it does need to be planned ahead. I spent about 10 minutes preparing it last night and less than 10 minutes making it for today’s lunch.

Last night:

I sliced one zucchini on the thinnest setting of the mandoline, took the stacks of sliced zucchini and cut them into thirds giving me two inch long thin slices that I tossed in a bowl. I then sliced 1/2 onion on the same setting. I tossed about half the sliced onion in the bowl with the zucchini. Then I zested a lemon and put the zest in with it as well. I cut the lemon in half and squeezed half the lemon into the bowl. I added 1/2 tsp of cumin, some salt and pepper and put a lid on the bowl, shook it a bit to distribute and put it in the fridge.

I got out a baggie and squeeze the other half of the lemon juice in their. I put the other half the onions in as well. I added 2 tsp of olive oil and a raw chicken breast. I sealed it up and put it in the fridge. Whenever I walked by the fridge, I would open it up and give the chicken and the zucchini a little shake to keep it marinating on all sides.

Today:

I heated my skillet to med-high with 2 tsp of olive oil. I cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces of so and let them saute, turning once – about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, I chopped up some butter lettuce and put it in a bowl with the zucchini and tossed it all lightly. I added a small handful of almonds and dried cranberries. When the chicken was done, I tossed it in with salad and served immediately.

The lemony flavor infused the meat and the zucchini and the lemon acid made the zucchini as tender as if it had been cooked while keeping its fresh flavor. It was delicious and easy – even though it does require planning.

Roasted Pear & Asparagus Salad

Roasted Asparagus & Pear Salad

This takes a tiny bit more work than most of my meals, but the rich caramelized flavors are worth it and it was a great way to use the half-pear left over from eating some fruit for breakfast.

So first steps are roasting the half-pear and the asparagus. I heated the oven to 400. In a small baking dish (for making individual quiche or tortes) I put 1 TBSP of balsmaic vinegar, 1 TBSP chopped onions and 1 TBSP of olive oil and mixed together. I put the peeled and cored half pear in and turned it a few times and put it in the oven to roast. About 10 minutes later, I spooned the balsamic back over the pear, basting it. I took 6 asparagus spears and put them in my roasting pan with a sprinkle of olive oil and kosher salt and started it roasting. I checked the pears and basted them every few minutes while they roasted. When the asparagus and pear began to caramelize, I removed them.

Meanwhile, I tore some red lettuce, cut up some pre-cooked chicken left over from making soup, and cut two thin slices off an onion that I broke apart into circles and layered them in a bowl. I chopped up about 6 almonds and roasted them in a skillet with no oil until they browned.

I cut the asparagus into thirds and chopped the now-tender pear and put them on top of the salad and added the almonds and some dried cranberries. I added a bit of fresh ground pepper, a dash of olive oil and the juice from half a lemon.

The contrast between the fresh lettuce, the cold chicken and the hearty roasted asparagus and sweet and rich pears is amazing. The onions add an essential bit of tang.

Chicken & Pear Salad

Chicken & Pear Salad

I chopped up 5 almonds and put them on a dry skillet to toast.

Into a large salad bowl, I added the following ingredients:

  • 4 leaves from a head of butter lettuce, washed and tore into medium size pieces.
  • Thinly sliced pieces of cucumber off one end of a cuke, about 1.5 inches of slices.
  • 2 TBSP of diced red pepper.
  • 1/4 of Anjou pear, cut one into pieces.
  • 2 oz of cold chicken, sliced.
  • 3 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 oz of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 TBSP or so of dried cranberries

I mixed  together and squeezed a bit of fresh lemon on top, added 1 tsp of olived oil, a bit of fresh ground pepper, salt and then tossed the toasted almonds on top.

It’s a fabulous blend of fresh lettuce and cucumber, tart lemon,  cranberries and basil with sweet pear and red pepper, sharp feta, hearty chicken and of course, the high notes of toasted almonds to bring it all home.

Chicken & Olive Melt Sandwich with Chop Salad

Sauteed Chicken Sandwich & Chop Salad

Today’s lunch was the third meal from the salad fixings I made day before yesterday. I finely chopped 1 celery stalk, 1 Pink Lady Apple, 1/2 cup of pecans, 2 tbsp of yellow onion, a handful of dried cranberries and 1 cup of fresh cilantro. This made three times as much as is needed for one sandwich or salad, so I did not mix it with the chicken or dress it with any salad dressing so I could use it as a base for different options – a far easier solution than cutting up 1/3 of an apple, etc. etc.

I had about 4 oz of the reserved white meat from my chicken soup remaining, so I cut it up and sauteed it in a small pan along with 6 chopped olives and 1.5 ounces of pepper jack cheese. I used about 1/2 tsp of olive oil just to keep it from sticking while it heated, with low heat and watching stirring, it won’t stick. While it cooked, I toasted a ciabatta bun, putting a bit of dijon mustard on the top. When the chicken was heated and the cheese melted, I put it on the bun.

I chopped up three leaves of romaine lettuce, spread the final third of thesalad fixings I had reserved on top and added a bit of raspberry vinaigrette. It makes a yummy vegan salad with plenty of bite.

Chicken Salad Sandwich & Mushroom Soup

DSCN4628

This was a super-simple lunch to make since most of it was prepared before. The mushroom soup was merely reheated from the soup I made on Wednesday. It’s a soup with dairy in it, so it will not keep for long and needed to be finished up. The sandwich was made with some of the fixings from yesterday’s lettuce wraps.

I had reserved about 2/3rds of the salad mix for future use. The thing is, when making up a salad mix, it’s well and good to say 1/3 apple, but it’s not realistic. So I am fine with mixing up a decent batch of mixed veggies that I can then use for different purposes.

Today I took another third of that mix of chopped apple, celery, onion, cilantro, pecans and dried cranberries. I added 2 TBSP of crumbled feta cheese and about 3 oz of chopped chicken saved from the soup. To dress it, I just tossed on a couple tablespoons of caesar dressing from the store. An italian, oil and vinegar or other slightly acidic dressing would work as well. With the cheese, you would not want anything too creamy and sweet. I toasted a ciabatta bun and spread the mix on it and there I had a tasty lunch that feeds the eyes as well in less than 5 minutes.

Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Curried Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I made this is three separate parts that I only mixed together for the lettuce wrap so that they can be used for other meals. First I cooked the base for chicken soup last night – putting a whole fryer in a stew pot with a chopped onion and 3 bay leaves, salt and pepper and let simmer for a.5 hours until the chicken was thoroughly cooked and just shy of falling off the bone. I removed the chicken from the broth and let it cool. After it cooled, I pulled all the meat off the bone, putting the dark meat back in the soup broth and reserving the white meat for salads and sandwiches.

Today I mixed up a delicious batch of Curried Yogurt Dressing, taking 1 cup of yogurt, two teaspoons of curry, salt, pepper and a dash of lemon juice and blending together.

For the salad fixings, I finely chopped 1 celery stalk, 1 Pink Lady Apple, 1/2 cup of pecans, 2 tbsp of yellow onion, a handful of dried cranberries and 1 cup of fresh cilantro. This makes about three times what I need for the chicken salad sandwich wraps, so I reserved the rest of it in a plastic container for another salad or whatever I decide to make with it.

I took three romaine leafs, using just the green tops, I ran my knife down the center of the stalk to keep the from cracking when rolled. I put on a plate and heated in the microwave for 10 seconds. They will still be cool and crisp, but will be just a bit more malleable. I mixed about equal part salad fixings and chicken in a bowl with enough curried yogurt dressing to pull it together and spooned the salad on the lettuce and served.

The apple’s sweetness really counter the bitterness of the celery, so that together they taste better than they do apart. The dried cranberries add a tart surprise and the pecans add some crunch and meatiness. It’s tasty and fresh and a great lunch option.

Savory Wheatberry Salad

Savory Wheatberry Salad

Although a relatively easy salad, it does produce a bunch of dirty dishes thanks to preparing the elements separately in order to give them different flavor profiles.

I started by putting 2 cups of wheatberries in a pot and covering it with about double its depth in water. After it came to a boil, I turned it down to a low rolling boil. It needs about an hour of cooking to be done. You want it to be a bit toothy or al dente.

I cut up a small pumpkin, cleaning out the seeds and setting them aside to roast for salads. I put the pieces in a pot with water and let it boil until done. I tossed in a couple crushed cardamom pods to flavor the pumpkin. After it was done, I rinsed with cold water so I could easily remove the skin and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, I put a TBSP of olive oil on to heat. I added about 1 tbsp dried sage, 1/2 sweet onion diced, salt and pepper. After the onions were softened, but not caramelized, I added 8 diced mushrooms and sauteed.

By then the wheatberries were done and I strained them. I then added the cardamom flavored pumpkin and the sage flavored mushrooms. I then tossed in a handful of dried cranberries.

To dress, I mixed up a bit of mustard, a dash of sriracha and some baldamic vinegar. A bit of salt and pepper to taste and served.

It’s a warm salad, though it tastes good cold as well. The cardamom and sage flavors come as separate note, underscored by the tang from dried cranberries and balsamic – and a bit of heat with mustard and sriracha. It was delicious and a great addition to Christmas dinner.

BBQ Beef and Warm Brussel Sprouts Salad

BBQ & Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds & Dried Cranberries

Shredded 10 brussels sprouts and tossed into 1 TBSP of heated olive oil. Added fresh ground pepper, freshly grated nutmeg and kosher salt. Stirred in a small handful of toasted chopped almonds and about 2 TBSP of dried cranberries. A delicious vegan side dish.

The BBQ is simply sliced up  leftover sirloin tip roast reheated on the other side of the saute pan with a couple TBSP of Ray’s BBQ sauce.

Prep time from start to finish – 15 minutes, most of it shredding the brussels sprouts. I toasted the almonds while I was shredding.