Sunday, March 19, 2017

BBQ Chicken Salad

When I hear the word "barbecue," I think, "indulgence!"  Barbecue usually includes piles of grilled or smoked meats, biscuits, corn bread, mac and cheese, deep-fried veggies, and mayo-drenched coleslaw.  This salad, however?  Light, crunchy, sweet, salty, spicy, tangy, satisfying, protein-packed, and one of the most delicious things I've eaten in a long time.  Lighten up your lunches this week with this incredible BBQ chicken salad!


YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c prepared BBQ sauce, divided
  • 1/4 c ranch dressing
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 ears corn, grilled, cooled, and kernels cut off cobs
  • 2-4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 hearts romaine, shredded
  • 1-2 cups tortilla chips, lightly crushed

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Make the BBQ chicken: marinade the chicken thighs in 1/4 cup BBQ sauce for 2-12 hours.  Grill or roast the chicken.  Cool, then dice or shred the chicken.
  2. Pack the salads: add 1 tbsp ranch dressing and 1 tbsp BBQ sauce to each of 4 tall quart-sized containers.  Layer the chicken, black beans, red onion, corn, cheese, tomato, and lettuce in the jars.  Divide the tortilla chips evenly among 4 snack-size zip-top bags for each salad.  Refrigerate until serving.
  3. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Top with tortilla chips.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Substitute prepared rotisserie chicken for the marinated, grilled chicken thighs.  Substitute canned black beans for the cooked black beans.  Cook 1 cup frozen corn kernels in 2 tsp olive oil until lightly browned, and substitute for the grilled corn.

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS:  For a vegetarian salad, substitute extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, for the chicken.  For a vegan salad, substitute tofu for the chicken, vegan cheddar for the dairy cheese, and also your favorite prepared creamy vegan salad dressing for the ranch dressing.  For a gluten-free salad, choose ranch and BBQ sauce labeled gluten-free, and choose 100% corn tortilla chips.  This salad is nut-free as-is.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Luck O' the Irish Salad

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  My family heritage includes a substantial link back to Ireland, so my family typically celebrated Saint Patrick's Day when I was a kid.  While many traditionally Irish foods do not, at first, appear to transition well to a salad, (colcannon, shepherd's pie, boiled dinner, soda bread, etc.) I thought it might be fun to give it a try - to devise a mason jar salad celebrating some of the traditional foods of Ireland.  Start with a chive-loaded vinaigrette, layer in some corned beef, steamed potatoes, green peas, onion, carrot, cabbage, and kale, and finish with mini soda breads on the side!  A nutritious, veggie-packed, surprisingly delicious way to offset some of those extra calories you may or may not consume this week in the form of green beer (or Guinness!)  Slainte mhath!


YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c raisins or dried currants
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 c red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c flax oil (or more extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh chives
  • 2-4 oz corned beef, diced or shredded
  • 1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cubed and steamed until tender
  • 1 c frozen green peas, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, grated or julienned
  • 1/2 small head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small bunch kale, stemmed and shredded

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Make the mini soda breads: preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Whisk together the flour sugar, salt, baking soda, and caraway seeds.  Cut in the butter using a fork or pastry blender, then stir in the raisins/currants.  Stir in the egg and buttermilk just until blended.  Place 1/4-cup sized scoops of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the mini breads begin to brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  2. Make the herb vinaigrette: combine the mustard, garlic, shallot, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegars, and oils in a pint-sized mason jar.  Puree and emulsify the dressing using a handheld stick blender.  (Alternately, puree and emulsify the dressing ingredients in a blender or mini food processor.)  Stir in the minced fresh herbs.
  3. Pack the salads: add 2 tbsp vinaigrette to each of 4 tall quart-sized containers.  (Reserve the remaining dressing for another use.)  Layer the corned beef, potatoes, peas, onion, carrot, cabbage, and kale in the jars.  Pack 1 mini soda bread for each salad.  (Enjoy the remaining soda breads for breakfast or share with others!)  Refrigerate until serving.
  4. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Break the soda bread into small chunks and add to your salad, or enjoy your soda bread on the side.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Substitute store-bought soda bread for the homemade soda bread, or omit.  Substitute your favorite prepared red-wine vinaigrette for the homemade herb vinaigrette.  Substitute bagged cabbage/carrot coleslaw mix for the shredded cabbage and carrot.  Substitute 5 oz baby kale for the stemmed, shredded kale.

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS:  For a vegetarian salad, substitute smoked almonds or diced smoked tofu for the corned beef.  For vegan soda bread, substitute your favorite non-hydrogenated margarine for the butter, plant milk + 1 tsp vinegar for the buttermilk, and commercial egg replacer for the egg white.  For a gluten-free salad, omit the soda bread, or use your favorite gluten-free flour blend.  This salad is nut-free as-is.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Taco Salad

Taco salad is a delicious indulgence you can find on the menu at almost any neighborhood Mexican restaurant.  Fill a gloriously puffy, golden-deep-fried flour tortilla bowl with copious amounts of lard-laced refried beans, shredded cheese, and seasoned ground beef, then garnish with a sprinkle of (often iceberg) lettuce, anemic diced tomato, sour cream, salsa, sometimes guacamole, and a few sliced black olives.  Sounds delicious!  But also ... I feel like I'd need a nap afterwards.  Oof!  Since I feel like a salad should typically be a healthy, frequently-enjoyed meal and not an occasional indulgence, I decided it would be best to keep the spirit and flavor of the original taco salad, but adjust the portions - significantly increase the lettuce and fresh veggies, chill out on the animal fats, and top with a few crushed tortilla chips.  The end result is a taco salad we can enjoy every day, but still tastes as delicious as our favorite Mexican restaurant staple.  (Added bonus?  You won't fall asleep at your desk after this lunch!)


YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/4 c sour cream or light sour cream
  • 1/4 c prepared salsa
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 4-8 oz chorizo, cooked, crumbled, and cooled
  • 4 oz Monterey Jack or pepper-jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large or 2-3 small tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2-3 hearts of romaine, shredded
  • 1-2 cups corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Make the salsa dressing: stir together the salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.
  2. Pack the salads: divide the dressing evenly among 4 tall quart-sized containers.  Layer the black beans, chorizo, cheese, red onion, bell pepper, tomato, green onion, and romaine in the jars.  Divide the tortilla chips evenly among 4 snack-size zip-top bags for each salad.  Refrigerate until serving.
  3. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Top with tortilla chips.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Substitute 1 cup canned black beans for the cooked black beans.  Use pre-shredded cheese and pre-washed/bagged lettuce.

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS:  For a vegetarian salad, omit the chorizo and increase the black beans to 2 cups.  For a vegan salad, make all of the vegetarian swaps, plus omit the cheese and use your favorite vegan sour cream in the dressing.  For a gluten-free salad, choose tortilla chips that are made from 100% corn, and use dressing ingredients labeled gluten-free.  This salad is nut-free as-is.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.