Not that this is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. I probably should have more greens in my diet anyway, if USDA's new nutrition chart is anything to go by... Tangent: was anyone else completely dumbfounded that they didn't think to use a pie chart in the first place? And their recommendations are still difficult to interpret, since they evidently can't even center the design accurately. Moral of the story: if you need a statistics degree to figure out how to eat, USDA's doing it wrong.
Return from tangent: furthermore, that's the exact kind of meal that you would want to have during summer. Fresh, crisp greens with an acid tang; anything else would add to the lethargy you already experience from the heat. Now, personally, I don't think that a salad by itself it enough to constitute an entire meal. A potato salad or a chicken salad, sure. But just a salad? Isn't that kinda... limited?
A question to be explored at a later date. In order to satisfy my craving and food preferences, I uncovered these two recipes, which have temporarily turned the Salad to an accessible summer meal for me.
Chicken Cherry Salad
Obviously, the best way to make a salad more meaty is to add, well, meat. (Duh.) But this one goes a step further by also adding croutons and cherries. Vegetables, protein, starch, fruit -- boom! Full nutritional value in a single dish. I'm waiting for the government to pat me on the head like a good little drone.
Facetiousness aside, I did continue eating this for several days in a row, jealously hiding it from my roommates. It's not as crisp as I expected (maybe I didn't toast the bread fast enough?), but that didn't bother me. In fact, that would have distracted me from the soft texture of the cherries and chicken. The vinaigrette gives everything a pleasant bite (in nice contrast to the cherries' sweetness), especially if you let it all soak it in for a few minutes.
For the Chicken:
- 6 (2,1/4 lbs) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 tbs Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbs dill, chopped
- 2 Tbs honey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 4 thick slices rustic bread, crusts removed, torn into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 lb fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted, and lightly crushed
- 3 heads butter lettuce, cored and turned into pieces
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs chopped chives
Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13min more. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5min longer. Transfer to a plate; reserve the fat.
Whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, dill, honey, and garlic together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir; set aside. Remove the crispy chicken skin and tear into pieces. Do the same with the chicken meat; discard the bones.
Heat the chicken fat over medium heat. Add bread to skillet and toast, turning frequently, until golden and crisp, about 2min. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper while still hot.
Place chicken meat in a large bowl. Add cherries, lettuce, radishes, and chives and drizzle with vinaigrette; toss to coat. Divide salad among plates and garnish with croutons and chicken skin.
Celery, Grape, and Mushroom Salad
Another good way to add meatiness to a dish (minus the meat)? Mushrooms! This is a doubly good recipe for summer because it calls for a grill -- not only for the mushrooms, mind you, but for the grapes as well. What an awesome way to add smokiness to an otherwise fresh and nutty dish! At least, so I imagine. I don't have a grill, so I rely on my broiler. It still tastes excellent, but I will definitely have to make it again when I have earned that essential step on the path to adulthood. NB: if you happen to have unlocked this life achievement already, please make this in its original form and tell me what it's like!
Also, if you want to prove yourself a dork, place the oyster mushrooms on your face and pretend that you're Cthulu.
(...yes, I do such things.)
- 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs olive oil (plus more for brushing)
- 1/4 cup almond oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup celery leaves
- 1/4 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped
- 1 lb king oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
- 2 cups (12oz) green grapes
- 2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
- 2 cups very thinly sliced celery
In a food processor, combine the remaining garlic with the parsley, celery leaves and almonds and pulse until finely chopped. Add another 1/4 cup of the olive oil and puree to a chunky paste. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
Light a grill (or heat your broiler). Brush the mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning once, until tender and browned, about 5min. In a bowl, toss the grapes with the remaining 1 Tbs of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until the skins begin to blacken in spots, about 3min; line the grill with perforated foil if the grapes will fall through. Transfer the grapes and mushrooms to a large bowl and toss with the pesto.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and drizzle with half of the dressing. Spoon the mushroom-and-grape salad onto the lettuce. Toss the celery with the remaining dressing, spoon it on top and serve.