Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Mango

Most people, when they decide to make salad, just make a salad.  A quick opening of the refrigerator door.  A glance at the counter.  A whisk and a shake of vinegar and oil.  I love almost every salad I make (surely I should be thinner) and Dave does, too.  With a couple of exceptions, I rarely repeat one, though I am crazy about fresh spinach with lime vinaigrette.  And, maybe even more, green beans and mushrooms with tarragon.  Or Caprese with bacon….  Well.

But this Nigella Lawson salad had us hooked from the very first time we ate it.  I saw the recipe somewhere and that was that.  It’s definitely addictive.  To say nothing of healthy.   Unlike most things I make,  this is one I typically make just like the recipe says.  Asian-inspired anything pushes me toward conventional wisdom and written-out recipes, though I do see myself peeking out from around the soy sauce now and again lately.  For instance:  yesterday I ran out of mint (the only herb called for in her version), but had cilantro and basil. I also had a great mango calling, “Alyce, Alyce.”    You can look at the original version here where I blogged it for Dinner Place.  Shrimp,too, instead of chicken, is scrumptious. Wow!  Add some cooked jasmine rice (ok, brown rice if you must) for a larger, more filling meal.

While this meal contains a whole jalapeno pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper (Nigella’s named a Thai bird chile), it is not terribly hot at all. (I don’t like really hot food just like I don’t like really salty food; I only taste hot or salty then.) It’s just flavorful.   Make just a little with the heat and try some if hot peppers are things you don’t eat.

The sad, but beautiful snow dance of the lilacs in my south garden.  Two of them will not survive.

If you’re watching your P’s and Q’s calorie or healthwise, this salad has your name engraved on it.  It’s one that fits both the South Beach and Weight Watcher profiles with smiles all around.   If you aren’t worried about  intake, you should make it anyway.    By the way, I made this for a group of music friends the other day–right after this last heavy Saint Paul snowstorm– and one of them brought cuties mixed with peach yogurt and chopped walnuts as our dessert.  Nice! Try this:

vietnamese chicken salad  with mango
 4+ generous servings    7 Weight Watchers Plus Points

Ingredients:

  • 1 jalapeno, minced very finely (no veins or seeds)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • Freshly grated black pepper 
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 12 ounces (3/4 pound) white cabbage, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded, julienned, or grated
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breasts, shredded, or cut into fine strips (can sub cooked shrimp)
  • 1/4 cup each chopped basil and cilantro (plus a little cilantro for garnish)
  • 2 mangos, peeled, seeded, and chopped 
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 scallions sliced very thinly (white and green parts)
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

In a medium, stirring with spoon, combine the chile, garlic, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, onion,  black and red peppers; set aside for 1/2 hour. to a large bowl, add cabbage, carrot, chicken breast,  basil, cilantro and mangoes, tossing with tongs. Pour cabbage mixture over the dressing, tossing with tongs, slowly and patiently so everything is coated. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve on a flat plate topped with almonds, scallions, and cilantro for garnish.

Cook’s Notes:  If you’re not going to eat all of this salad at one meal, store the vegetables-fruit and dressing separately; otherwise it can be soggy.

Weight Watchers Notes:  Skip almonds to subtract a point or cut back on chicken portion; do not cut sugar–it’s necessary for the dressing.
… … … … …

DINING OUT FOR LIFE : DINE OUT/FIGHT AIDS

LIST OF RESTAURANTS DONATING PORTION OR ALL OF THEIR INCOME TODAY!

http://www.diningoutforlife.com/minneapolis

  … … … …

Food Needed:  Cheyenne River Reservation Episcopal Mission–9 congregations in 2 counties

Elderly, Disabled, Grandparents raising children need food. 

Solo Episcopal pastor on the reservation tries to help, but is out of resources.

Please read and help if you can?

Friend them on fb, too!

Sing a new song!  Come, Spring, Come!

Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 15 — Winter Squash — Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit, Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette

How are new salads born at my house?    Like this……

I’ve had some Israeli couscous (actually a blend) in my cabinet for a few months.  Waiting.
Typically I throw some leeks, garlic, and asparagus in a sauté pan come spring and throw those lovely things into a bowl of couscous or orzo with a handful of grated Parmesan and lots of black pepper.

When I realized this was the week to blog winter squash, a different group of ingredients started to percolate.  Despite the summer tomatoes still coming on (albeit slowly) and the basil crying for that last bowl of pesto to be made, I kept thinking fall food once the squash got in my head.  Cranberries, apples, pears, sharp cheese, nuts.

Fall..I adore pears…here I’ve just poached them slowly in port with some orange peel and cinnamon sticks.

Thursday I had a big pot of turkey chili on the stove and called some friends to run over and help eat it.  This salad, which began in my head days before it ended up in our stomachs,  started the meal.  I cooked the couscous and started chopping fruit and toasting nuts.  It came together that easily; it’s fairly fast, too.  I did think I might have liked walnut oil for the vinaigrette, but the only can I had was in the frig at our Colorado house where it’ll stay a bit fresher over the time we’re not there.

Could it be a whole meal?  Definitely.  Since it has oranges to keep the fresh fruit from turning brown, I think it’ll keep a day or so…but no more.  It might be a filling and happy side for a quick Thanksgiving meal:  roast a turkey breast, make this salad, and cook some of those green beans you’ve been freezing.  Anyway, here’s how:

Follow the photo-easy recipe:

Cook 8 ounces of  Israeli Couscous*  according to package directions. Use chicken broth in place of water. You can add a few leaves of fresh sage if you have them (remove before making salad).  When couscous is tender, add 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil while still hot.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper.  Optional:  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cool to room temperature.
Toast 1/4 cup pecans in a dry small skillet and chop, reserving a few whole nuts for garnish.
Dice (medium) 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 orange (peeled),  6 dried figs (or fresh), 1 small cooked butternut squash (see below for my microwave directions).  Dice (small):  2 oz. each sharp cheddar and Swiss cheese like Jarlsberg or Emmental or even Gruyere.
Mix fruit, squash,  cheese, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and pecans with cooled couscous.  Add the juice of another orange and 1 teaspoon honey.  Stir well, taste and adjust seasonings and/or dressing.  Serve in a bowl lined with fresh spinach leaves and garnish with reserved whole pecans.

 6 servings

We liked this salad with coffee cup pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.

*I used Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s (available on amazon.com as well), which is a “savory blend of Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo beans, and Red Quinoa.”  Regular Israeli or pearl couscous is fine and orzo or even farro would be easily workable substitutes.

Ingredients list:  8oz Israeli couscous or blend, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (optional), fresh sage leaves (optional), 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (used 1 15 oz. can plus a little water), 1 1/2 tablespoons each canola and extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pecans,  1 small butternut squash, 1 pear, 1 apple, 2 oranges (1 in salad, 1 juiced), 6 figs (fresh or dried), 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 2 ounces each sharp cheddar  and Swiss cheeses, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 cups fresh spinach leaves

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HOW TO COOK BUTTERNUT SQUASH IN THE MICROWAVE:

   Place squash in a large microwave-safe dish and, using a sharp thin knife, poke a few holes in the largest section for escaping steam.  Microwave on high 3-5 minutes (depending on size of the squash–a 1.5lb squash might take 5 minutes, for example) and remove the squash to a cutting board.   Using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half horizontally and  with a large spoon, scoop out seeds and strings.   Place the two halves back in the baking dish with a little (2 tablespoons or so) water and put the dish back in the microwave.  Cook another five minutes on high or so (depending on the size of the squash) until tender. Covering the squash with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe cover will decrease the cooking time.   I have also filled the center section with butter and a little brown sugar and served it just like that. (I often do this with acorn squash for a quick hot lunch.)  Otherwise, you can let the squash cool, and then peel and chop or mash it according to your needs.  This is much easier than peeling (or cutting) raw butternut squash, which is, at best, difficult.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I cook winter squash frequently and my reasons are many.  Here are a few:

1.  It’s delicious; it’s good for your body.
2.  It’s easy to prepare in several ways: Stick in oven, saute, braise, boil, or microwave.
3.  It’s useful as a vegetable or side, but is also hearty enough for a main dish. (Stuff with cumin rice, jack cheese and scrambled eggs for breakfast!)
4.  It’s an excellent addition to soups and stews.
5.  It’s a good substitute for potatoes with pot roast or roasted chicken.
6.  It’s inexpensive and easy to find nearly year round, but particularly now.
7.  It keeps on the counter for a long time–easily 2 months. (That’s about the limit for acorn; the others can keep much longer.)

Be brave and try whatever beautiful squash you find at the market.  Whatever you do with acorn squash, you can easily do with most of the others.  Even spaghetti squash is quickly cooked in the microwave.  Shred it with a fork, add a little butter (salt/pepper) and you have a beautiful meal.  And, yes, you can add marinara and stay on South Beach, phase 2!!

Don’t want to deal with the peel?  You can buy peeled and cubed butternut squash or pumpkin at some markets, but you will pay a premium price.

Nutrition Profile for Butternut Squash

Each cup of cubed butternut squash provides approximately 60 calories, 16 g of carbohydrates and 3 g of fiber. It also supplies almost 300 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, 50 percent of vitamin C, 7 percent of calcium and 5 percent of iron.

 Want more info on winter squash, including nutrition and recipes?  Visit the Snap-Ed (USDA) site here.

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If you liked this, you might also like this recipe from my Dinner Place blog.

rosemary chicken thighs with butternut squash, onions, and fennel

Throw it all together with olive oil; slip it into the oven on a big rimmed baking sheet.  Dinner emerges in about 35 minutes!

or you might like this:

roasted orange chicken and butternut squash (meal in a pan)

or my butternut and other squash soup

This is a lovely soup for someone who is not well or can’t chew, but is luscious as well for a first course at Thanksiving.

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I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about beautiful winter squash this week at these sites:


Alanna –  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/

Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
.
Join us:

If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

Sing a new song and cook a new squash,
Alyce 

Alyce’s Tortellini Salad Goes to Denver, but Misses Olivia’s Birthday

IMG_7688

Summer comes and this tortellini salad comes with it.  Just ask my family.
Full of tender cheese-filled tortellini and lots of chunky vegetables, it’s held together with a brisk mustard vinaigrette and lots of thin slices of sopressata or hard salami.  If I’m going to a family event or a church picnic, I make a big bowl of this salad and bring it along.  In Minnesota, it goes in the cooler and makes its way up north to celebrate Joe’s and Olivia’s birthdays. The original recipe was, I think, from the COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE years ago, but it has changed quite a bit over time.

I missed Olivia’s birthday this year, but made the salad anyway.  See you soon, I hope!

Here in Colorado, it travels up I-25 to Denver for a family afternoon by the pool after a visit to a museum.

This year, Bill made a big hunk of brisket he smoked overnight.  Sean brewed some beer and I made (of course) the tortellini salad.  Occasionally it morphs just a bit; originally it didn’t have many vegetables.  I had to amend that.  The resulting salad is fine for a whole meal, but it’s also a total one-dish side for any barbequed meat.  You know how pasta salad can be pale, insipid, and less than interesting?  Perhaps only filling?  Easily left on the plate at picnics?  That is what this pasta salad is not.   

Nope, we don’t want to get out of the pool. Even for lunch.
This is either Cosmo or Gizmo tending bar.  Whichever one, he got no tortellini salad.
The unveiling of the smoked meat!

TORTELLINI SALAD FOR OLIVIA’S BIRTHDAY, BILL’S BRISKET, or YOUR SUMMER BASH
serves 12

18-20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini (find in refrigerator case)
2 small zucchini, cut into matchstick size pieces
1 small yellow squash, ditto
1 red sweet pepper, ditto
1 yellow sweet pepper, ditto
1 green or orange sweet pepper, ditto
1/4 c minced red onion
1/4# hard salami, cut into 1/4″ slices  (I like sopressata for this.)
1/3 c  each fresh basil and parsley, chopped (keep out 1 T for garnish)
1/2 t dried oregano or Herbes de Provence
1/2 c freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (keep out 2T for top of dish)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3T red wine vinegar
2T Dijon mustard
1/3 c Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt; Freshly-ground Pepper;1/8 t crushed red pepper
Cherry Tomatoes for garnish

In 8 qt. stock pot, bring 5-6 qts. well-salted water to boil. Add fresh tortellini and cook about 8 min or according to package directions.
Meantime, make dressing: In large bowl (or in food processor), whisk together red wine vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard. Slowly pour in olive oil and whisk until emulsified (creamy and satiny). Add salt and peppers; stir well. Set dressing aside.
Drain tortellini while still a tad al dente and, while hot in colander, add all zucchini and yellow squash. Stir gently to let heat of pasta cook the squash just a tad. Allow pasta and squash to cool, stirring periodically.
Add sliced peppers, salami, all but 2 tablespoons parmesan all but 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and the oregano or Herbes de Provence.  Stir gently; tortellini can fall apart easily. Drizzle most of dressing onto salad and combine. (Save some dressing to add right before serving)
Refrigerate until needed or overnight. To serve, add extra dressing and taste salad for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with reserved basil or parsley, Parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  (If refrigerated overnight, you’ll definitely need to re-season.)

Note:  If you have any other vegetables, add them. This version has some fresh, minced broccoli as well as some diced carrots.

Note:  For vegetarian or vegan option, skip salami and, for vegan, use pasta made without eggs and leave off Parmesan.

{printable recipe}

Aunt Carolyn relaxing after lunch.

Sing a new song; make an old tortellini salad,
Alyce

Homemade Potato Chip-Steak Salad

Just add fork

Sometimes I don’t know what gets into me.  I know I have something leftover and simple from which to create a meal.  Say a piece of steak or two small pieces, in this case.  (Neither Dave nor I could finish our dinner the night before. Is there something wrong with us?)  I didn’t set out to make a homemade potato chip-steak salad…but here’s how it happened: 

First,  I take the steak out of the frig and begin casting around for something to go with it.  Toast?  I could make a sandwich.  Pasta?  I could cook up some vegetables to go with the steak while the water boils.  Stir fry?  Omelet filled with steak?  Steak and eggs?  I could make  mushrooms in velouté  sauce with cream (Supreme is the name, I think–I made it up as a young cook without knowing its name.) and Dijon mustard, add the steak and serve it over rice.  How about a childhood favorite, beef hash?  (Who would waste great steak on hash, Alyce?) 

Instead of beginning any of those dishes,  I  find myself at the Cuisinart making homemade mayonnaise, using Daniel Boulud’s method:
    

Who is Daniel Boulud?

 

Make a poached egg and cook it for only two minutes.  Remove from water with a slotted spoon and place it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse until well-blended. 

Into the food processor bowl, pour 1T good-quality  white-wine vinegar (such as Chardonnay or Champagne) and 1T Dijon mustard. (I like to use the whole grain variety.) Pulse until well blended.

Through the feed tube, with the machine running, drizzle 1 cup canola oil.* Process until thick.  Season with salt and pepper.

*Daniel Boulud uses peanut oil

~~

And then I take out a skillet, heat a little canola oil and fry up very thin slices of potato for potato chips.  This is coming together, I think:

Drain them on paper towels. Salt and pepper immediately.   Don’t eat them all.

~~

Meantime, I “boil” an egg in the microwave.  (Break an egg into a greased, microwave-safe cereal-sized bowl.  With a fork, poke the egg white all over several times and the yolk once.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute.  Let sit one minute.  Remove wrap, tip egg onto cutting board and chop)

Next:  A large bowl comes out of the cupboard (nearly done now–pretty quick!) and I line it with  

4 cups of mixed greens topped with the steak, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, the chopped egg, 1/4 cucumber, chopped, 2 green onions, chopped, 1 carrot, sliced, 1 stalk celery, sliced, 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, 1/2 each yellow and red pepper sliced, and whatever other vegetables I can find–including a beautiful warm summer tomato (don’t refrigerate them ever) and even a little leftover grilled sweet corn.

When the chips are done, I put them around the outside of the salad bowl.

A half-lemon is located and squeezed over the entire salad.  Salt and pepper are next.  I’m generous, but don’t go overboard.  After all, the salad will be dressed with real mayonnaise, right?

I slip a few pieces of baguette under the broiler.  (brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper)

And dinner is served:

I serve the mayonnaise separately; no need to over-dress this lovely bowl of goodness.

This process made enough for Dave and me.  He ate two servings; I ate one.  So I’d say this was about 3 servings!

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two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

I’m tired of the daytime heat.  Like the whole rest of the country, I guess. Storms often arrive late afternoon or early evening.  Things blow and go; little rain arrives, though when it does, it’s incredibly forceful.  I water everything daily.  A beautiful part of near-mountain living is the coolness of the evening and night.   While we  resort to air conditioning during the day, in the evening after suppertime it’s turned off and the windows are thrown open wide to welcome the sweet breeze.  All night long the air graces our rooms unlike the midwest where the heat lingers heavily.

My favorite breakfast these days…when I’m not having yogurt and berries: 

On the dinnerplace blog now:  Egg+Egg White Omelet filled with Nonfat Cottage Cheese on WW Toast

If I don’t get out early to walk the doggies (by 7:30), and sometimes even if I do, I later get in a power walk on youtube.  Sometimes two! There are several walks from which to choose–3 minute for a desk break, 5 minute, 2 mile, etc. They are easy to fit into the day and I often stick up the laptop (with the walking video on and the sound off) next to the tv when a favorite show is on.   I do the walk/exercise and watch Ina all at the same time.

I’m working on the soups for the cookbook almost daily.  Once I develop a recipe, it must be tested several times and then I pass it on to someone else for testing.  Does it work when someone else makes it?  I’ve now made posole several times, shall we say.  (I think I’ve got it down.)  My dear friend, sommelier Drew Robinson, was to come today to taste three of the soups (and one secret very-fast dessert) in order to begin the process of pairing.  Long ago, at some far-away dinner with our wine group, Drew let it be known he would provide the wine pairings for a cookbook I would someday write.  Not sure either one of us believed it would ever happen, but it’s happening!  Anyway, Drew forgot he has another wine-tasting tonight and we’re rescheduling.   I am a bit relieved because as much as I love my new posole recipe, I’m ready for something else to eat.  The next soups are a quick vegetarian bean and a cold avocado.   As the book will not have photographs, I keep forgetting to take pictures….I must do it!

I play inside with Miss Gab in the afternoons for a few minutes–too hot for her to run outdoors. 

You’re throwing the ball, right?

We’ve had plenty of time to visit with old friends and worship at First Congregational…one of my very favorite churches anywhere.  Last Sunday, the ample sanctuary was filled to capacity.  Nothing special occuring…and it was summer when  a lot of churches are fairly empty.  Why is FCC so full?  While I might not be qualified to say why, I do know these things:  there’s a bow toward tradition…while embracing the new.  All are truly welcome and these folks are joyful; what more could you want?  Except that when the table is laid and communion is about to begin, these words are said, “Come, all things are ready.”  Such a breathing place.

    One of the best parts about being here is more time with my family

    off to a beer festival…

    and lunches/shopping trips in the middle of the day:

    Trip to Toys r Us:  expensive
    Smile on grandson’s face:  priceless

    Sing a new song,
    Alyce

    Red, White, and Blue Kale Salad for 4th of July

    Stay cool!

    Where we live in Saint Paul, it can already be warm pretty early in the morning.  I’m a 
    morning person; the earlier the better.  I’m also the daughter of both my father and father-in-law, because after I push the button on the coffee (pot filled night before), I check the temperature on my back porch.  In the summer if it’s above 70, I sigh heavily, drink my coffee, and get out for my morning hike.  Why?  Because it will soon be 80, then 90, and today, my friends, the little weather gizmo on my iphone says it will be 99.  If you’re a regular reader, you know what my house is like:

     

                                       Above:  Ah, our house in winter….

    In other words, I have a nearly 100-year-old  house on three levels  with radiator heat and no capability for central air conditioning.  A couple of window units make life possible and there’s a cool basement that occasionally serves as our “cabin.”   Naturally, such climate also produces things like the best tomatoes on earth or my south garden roses:

    Exercise and real cooking or baking must be done very early indeed on 100-degree days and I have invested in a combination microwave-convection oven where I can bake without getting the house too terribly hot.   I’ll be honest and say the convection oven is not all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s a real improvement over no oven for three months in summer.  A basement kitchen is what I want and there are many in the Twin Cities.

    Most of the time, I do summer meals like everyone else: grilling, salads, ice cream for dessert.  Each year, the salads change depending on what’s good to eat or what I have at any given time.  If your frig or garden is full of kale (CSAs are notorious for delivering ton of kale!), this salad is for you.  I call it a shop and chop; you buy a few ingredients (here, feta and olives) and just chop up whatever else you’ve got.   Try this for the 4th; the kalamata olives serve as the “blue.”  It’s a great accompaniment for barbequed pork chops, Italian sausages, salmon, or marinated chicken breasts.

    red, white, and blue salad for the 4th of July**
    serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main dish

    • 10 cups finely chopped kale or baby kale
    • Juice of 1 lemon, divided
    • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 cup each:   chopped feta cheese and whole, pitted kalamata olives
    • 2 cups chopped English cucumbers (no need to peel)
    • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
    • 1 t dried Turkish oregano
    • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
    • 2T good quality red wine vinegar
    • 4 T extra virgin olive oil

     Place kale in a large bowl.   Drizzle about half the lemon juice over the greens and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Toss well.  On top of the seasoned kale layer the feta, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion.  Sprinkle salad evenly with oregano, dill, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Drizzle on the rest of the lemon juice and the red wine vinegar.  Toss well.  Drizzle on oil and toss again. Taste and re-season if necessary.  Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.   (Can be made several hours ahead:  make as described above, but do not add any lemon juice, vinegar, or oil until you’re ready to serve.  Cover and chill; dress right before serving.)

    **If you have leftover grilled vegetables or sautéed eggplant from another day, these things make tasty additions to  this salad and are a great way to use up leftover vegetables.   If you’ve leftover grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork tenderloin, you could add them for a more robust main-dish salad.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    If you liked this, you might also like this

        

     Stay cool…especially all our loved Colorado folks….and sing a new song,
    Alyce

    Grilled Chicken with Couscous Greek Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette

    Dedicated to Gus and Irene Matthews

    Hello!  I missed you.  (Actually, I didn’t; I had no time to miss anything.)  But I’m happy to be back.  Thanks for being here.

    Back from vacation and hot, hot, hot. HOT!  I know it’s hotter out east, and the temperature has been going down this afternoon as a storm approaches, but I sort of miss Canada.  Recipe way below if you’re interested…

    I really miss being waited on.  Having my coffee delivered every morning.  Having no laundry (til I got home).  Being with Dave all the time without anything to distract us from one another. (Ah, gee.)
    Making new friends I wish I were with this minute.

    She could find a French cafe anywhere.
    Did you know they make wine in Quebec?  I liked the dessert wines best and brought some home.
    Dave’s favorite pose.
    Coast of Cape Breton
    Somewhere off the coast of Canada!
    Me and my castle.

    I guess I digressed, but we did wine and dine for nine days….  My favorite city (and we went on a ship from Montreal – Boston, visiting Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Sydney, Halifax, and Bar Harbor in between) was Montreal; I’m dying to go back.  Our best meal was at Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston.  Many thanks to Lydia Walshin of Perfect Pantry fame, who recommended it as her favorite go-to.)  Balanced, accessible wine list. House-made pâté with crispy, crusty, chewy baguette.   Small, but perfect entree list; I chose “Lamb Three Ways.”  I now know there is a God.   Dave had roast chicken the likes of which I pray to taste again in my lifetime.  (I thought I made great roast chicken with pan juices.)  Kind, but refined service.  No snooty guys in long aprons rolling their eyes; these folks were genuine food-lovers who knew their restaurant and wanted to make sure you knew it, too.

    Just go.

    Did you come for a recipe?  Ah, grilled chicken and Greek salad!  About it:  I’ve made similar salads, but not quite exactly like this.  There’s one on the blog, but I thought the idea worth repeating as we love this come hot weather.  Grill up some chicken tenders or boneless breasts very quickly (Who even wants to stand in front of the grill?) while your partner makes a fast chopped Greek salad mixed with a bit of couscous.   If it’s just you doing all the cooking, make the vinaigrette and couscous first, next the mixed vegetables, then the chicken, and last, toss the salad.   Arrange it all on a big, beautiful platter (buy one–check out Good Will) and dinner is served.  It was so hot last night that we ate inside.

    grilled chicken tenders with couscous greek salad   serves 4

    You can also make this salad with cooked, diced rotisserie chicken.  After tossing couscous with vegetables and greens, add the chicken and then the vinaigrette.

    ingredients list: 

    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    • 1 1/2  teaspoon dried oregano, divided
    • Crushed red pepper
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for brushing on chicken
    • 1 1/2 cups cooked couscous made with onion and garlic (see below for directions)
    • 1/2 English cucumber, unpeeled
    • 2 ripe tomatoes
    • 1/2  green bell pepper
    • 1/4 pound feta cheese
    • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
    • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 pound boneless chicken tenders
    • 1 – 1/12 cups cooked couscous with added onion and garlic (see below for directions)
    • 4 cups mixed fresh salad greens

    1. Make a vinaigrette first: Whisk well together 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3/4 t Dijon-style mustard, a good pinch of salt, pepper, dried oregano and crushed red pepper.  Drizzle in slowly 1/2 cup olive oil and whisk until well-combined or thickened (emulsified.)   Set aside.

    2. Make the couscous as per directions below.  Set aside.

    3. Chop the English cucumber,  tomatoes, green pepper (if using), feta, and red onion. Mince the parsley. Add all of the vegetables to a large bowl and stir in kalamata olives.  Mix together gently with the other teaspoon of dried oregano, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.  Set aside.

    4.  Grill until just done (about 2 minutes on each side) 1 lb. of chicken tenders or boneless chicken breasts brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Place at center of a large serving platter.  Cover and let rest 2-4 minutes.

    5.  When chicken is resting, add 4 cups mixed greens and the 1 – 1 1/2 cups couscous to the vegetables in the large bowl and toss together.  Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Uncover the chicken and spoon the salad mixture onto the serving platter around the chicken tenders.  Drizzle a bit more vinaigrette over the chicken and serve hot or at room temperature.

    *COUSCOUS: Buy a box of couscous with roasted garlic and olive oil, such as the one made by NEAR EAST.  Don’t follow the package directions.  Sauté 2 tablespoons minced onion and 1 clove minced garlic with a pinch each of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until softened–a couple of minutes.   Add the required 1 1/4 cup water and seasoning packet and bring to a boil. Add dried couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  Let sit until you need it, then fluff with a fork.  You’ll need just 1 1/2 cups; use the rest for lunches.

    {printable recipe}

    above:  the salad made with diced rotisserie chicken

    We drank a brilliant Oregon white with this:  Tony Soter‘s North Valley “Hyland White,” 2008–made from Riesling and Traminer vines.  I don’t know if they’re still making this wine.  At a quick glance, I didn’t see it on their website, but you should always call the vineyard to see what’s available.  If they only have a couple of cases or a few bottles, it won’t show on the site.  The winery, in 2008, made only 70 cases of this wine.

    Here’s our wine group tasting at Soter a couple of years ago.

    two-dog kitchen

    The kids had Newman for supper last night.  They’ve been apart for so long!

    Sing a new song,
    Alyce

    all photos and text copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012. no use without permission.  just ask.