Monday Jan. 24, 2011
I eat a lot of salads these days. Not only are they very good for me, but I really love them, and actually get cravings for a made salad. There are two primary benefits of eating salads. The first is obvious; it's a great way to get a load of vegetables into your body at once. Great if you've been having a carb, dairy and meat type of day. Secondly, if you eat a salad as a first course to dinner, you're less likely to overeat on the stuff you shouldn't be overeating (think being too full to have a second helping of mashed potatoes).
As I said though, I mostly like salads because of the taste, but I suppose another reason is because they are so easy to put together, especially on a work day evening, when time is of the essence. When I'm really looking for a one-dish meal, I often turn to a salad chalked full of veggies and topped with some grilled protein like chicken, steak or tuna. The key to pull this off is to have a well-stocked fridge of salad toppings, both fresh and bottled, and to have fresh or thawed protein ready for a quick after-work marinade.
My favourite go-to salad is a Greek Salad, with lemony grilled chicken breast. With a supply of fresh vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, lemon, red onion, cucumber and bell pepper, along with bottled toppings including olives, artichokes and various peppers, as well as feta cheese, I'm all set for making a salad and a homemade dressing. All I need to do is remember to take some chicken breast out of the freezer in the morning before work, make a quick marinade after work, go walk the pup or workout, get home and start cooking. Within 20 minutes I'm usually sat in front of the TV watching the game, with a big bad salad in my lap. Here's how I make it.
Greek Salad Dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of kosher salt and a few cracks of black pepper
Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake vigorously until dressing is a well-combined homogeneous mixture. For my Greek salads I like to pre-dress my greens with the salad dressing before plating, and I add my salad fixins afterward. This ensures the right amount of dressing is used, and also completely covers each piece of lettuce. I measure out the right amout of lettuce on the salad plates and then return the lettuce to a large bowl. Add some salad dressing (not too much) to the lettuce and toss together with tongs. If you need a little more, add as needed.
Arrange "dressed" greens to plates and top with salad fixins. For my Greek salads, I like the classic essentials; sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and peperincino. I also go for some seasoned croutons, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh red bell pepper strips and cherry peppers. You really can't go wrong with whatever fresh vegetables you have. Top with the grilled chicken and you have a super-healthy and protein-packed salad that makes an awesome meal.
Grilled/Broiled Greek Chicken Breast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
Tsp dried oregano
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (chicken nugget size)
Mix first four ingredients for marinade in a small bowl with a whisk. Add chunks of chicken to a zip bag or glass dish and cover with marinade. Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour before grilling or broiling. When ready to cook, preheat your grill/broiler and cook chicken until done, turning as necessary. Should take 5-7 minutes. Let chicken rest for a few minutes and add to your salad. Also makes a great stuffed pita or wrap.
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About Me...The Wicked Newfoundlander
I'm originally from Newfoundland, Canada, and very proud of it! I moved to upstate New York in 2007, and I spend much of my time working and playing throughout New England. Besides my wife, our dog and hockey, I'm passionate about food. I love to cook and create great tasting food. I also love tasting and critiquing food, and comparing regional cuisine (notably Newfoundland and New England dishes).