Know what cliche I cannot stand? That women must eat *just* a salad in order to fit the sterotypical “healthy eater” mold.
However, I *do* dig salads…but not the boring ‘ol lettuce, tomato, cucumber side salad variety (though, those have a time and a place, I probably eat one of those almost every night as part of my dinner). What I’m talking about here are meal-sized salads that pack a protein boost along with lots of antioxidants and a TON of flavor.
With that, I welcome back Foodie Friday — the “more than *just* a salad edition.
Now that spring and summer weather is upon us, I’m back to gravitating towards salads for lunch or dinner. For some reason, in the winter months, I just don’t crave meal-sized salads very often. I usually steer for wrap sandwiches (which are still in heavy rotation right now!!) and warm foods and the thought of salad is somehow far less appealing until the seasons change.
But just this week, I re-discovered my love affair with a couple of salad concoctions I ate pretty often this time last year and thought I’d share them with you here, along with my “approach” to building the best damn salad around (if I do say so myself!).
First up – my lunch yesterday:
This was a mixed green salad with fresh sliced strawberries and cucumbers and leftover quinoa on top. We had quinoa the other night with dinner and it turned out so well, I was really glad I made extra! I sauteed garlic, onions, and jalepenos and then added the quinoa to the pan and used chicken stock to cook the quinoa in. Turned out super-flavorful with just the right amount of heat from the jalepeno. Such a good pairing on the salad yesterday!!
And then – this ended up being dinner last Friday:
Neither of us were in the mood to cook. At. All. We were tired, it had been a long week for both of us given I was away most of the week for work in Cali. BUT I was craving a homecooked meal after being away. So, Scott agreed to grill if I could figure out something easy to have with whatever he grilled. And this is how our new signature grilled chicken salad was born — I do believe it’s become our new Friday night dinner staple. Takes no time at all — just assemble the salad, grill the chicken and slice it up on top. Easy peasy! This chicken is Scott’s specialty – he takes lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and a touch of cayenne and sort of makes a rub out of it to put on the chicken. Then he grills it up while I prep the salads – simply made with fresh baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and salt and pepper. I also like to add a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese on top of my salad, adds extra flavor!
There are loads of other salads I could probably tell you about but I thought I’d share my most recent faves. My approach to building a meal-sized salad is pretty simple. I always include at least one protein source — hard boiled egg, chopped almonds (1 oz goes a long way), goat cheese, avocado…you get the idea. Then I’ll add a shitton of mixed greens or fresh baby spinach, plus cucumber and tomato and the sky’s the limit in terms of toppings I mix in. I love to pair strawberries or blueberries or watermelon with either feta or goat cheese – omg so good. Or strawberries/blackberries with avocado is equally delish. Black beans, corn and red onion is an awesome pairing for a southwestern inspired salad – with some queso fresco cheese and salsa as the dressing if you’re feeling really daring. 😉 I’ve also built a mixed green plate and topped it with fresh-made tuna or chicken salad which adds a giant protein boost. So yummy. And lately, using leftover quinoa or barley has been awesome as a protein/fiber boost.
So there you have it — some of my salad faves…something I’m sure you’ll see lots more of from me this summer as I continue to get creative in the kitchen, especially as locally-grown produce becomes available. I ❤ summer!!