Category Archives: Salads

Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crostini

I’m not one much for white chicken. I feel like it usually ends up dry and tasteless.  But, if you cook just right, that can help retain moisture, tenderness, and flavor.  We have Amish free range chickens readily available year round, so I picked up a whole chicken, and decided to use the breast meat to make a hearty Caesar salad.  Plus, I had some extra chicken left over to make a quick chicken salad!

Roast Chicken Caesar Salad

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced capers
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • about 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Couple slices sturdy good bread – I used an Asiago loaf
  • 1-2 bone-in chicken breasts (depending on if you want leftovers)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head romaine, chopped

To roast chicken, heat oven to 325 degrees.  In an oven-proof pan, melt butter and oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Sear chicken skin side down in pan for about 2-3 minutes.  Turn and cook on other side another 2-3 minutes.  Pour off excess butter and oil and place pan with chicken into oven.  Roast for about 18 minutes depending on size, until just cooked through.  To check for doneness, cut into chicken with a knife – if juices run clear, chicken is cooked. Let cool a bit, and then pick all meat off bones and roughly chop with a knife.  Set pan aside aside with chicken juices and reserve for later.

For dressing, in a medium bowl, add egg, capers, mustard, and garlic and whisk.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing becomes nice and creamy.  Add another tablespoon or two of olive if need be to reach desired consistency.  Whisk in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

To make crostini, place bread in pan with chicken juices and let sop up juices on each side.  Sprinkle one side of bread with some cheese until just covered and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 4 minutes, or until cheese is melty and just starting to turn golden.

While bread is toasting, assemble salad.  Mix Romaine, remaining cheese, and about a heaping cup of chopped chicken, and some salt and pepper with about 3 heaping tablespoons of dressing (you will have leftover dressing) in a large bowl.   Taste for plenty of seasoning and dressing and add more if necessary. Serve salad with crostini.


Pickled Veggies

Well, the farmers’ market is done, and our garden is gone.  But, I was able to stock up the last few weeks, and with the remaining beautiful summer veggies, I made a big jar of pickled vegetables.  Though I’ll list what all I put into it, it really is just up to personal preference and what is available.  I made sure to let mine “pickle” in the fridge for at least 5 days before I started eating on them, and they should last for about a month.

You can see some other things I pickled in the background - baby cabbage with sweet red peppers and the other is cherry tomatoes.

  • 1/4 head cauliflower, chopped small
  • 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 sweet peppers, chopped
  • 5 radishes, quartered
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, 2 minced, 1 cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper corns
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • white vinegar (enough to fill half of the jar you are using) – I used a quart sized jar
  • 2/3 cup sugar (if using a quart)
  • 3 tablespoons salt

Blanch cauliflower and zucchini in a pot of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes.  Blanch beans in a pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Drain each batch and shock in an ice bath.

Add enough vinegar to jar you are using to reach halfway.  Fill up remaining area in jar with water.  Pour into a medium-sized saucepan and add sugar and salt and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, add peppercorns, coriander, cumin, and garlic to jar.  Add all vegetables.  Pour vinegar mixture over and seal.  Let “pickle” in fridge for at least 5 days, and will keep for about a month in the fridge.

Caprese Pasta

I eat Caprese salads pretty regularly in the summer – probably about once per week, especially when we are getting tons of tomatoes from our garden.  We had all the fixings for it the other day, but I was craving pasta (I seriously  think I may have a pasta addiction), so I decided to combine the two, and it it worked out great!

Caprese salad plus pasta? Genius!

Caprese Pasta

  • 1 pound pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • about 3 cups chopped tomatoes (I used a mix of different types and sizes – big tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, whatever we had)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • several splashes balsamic vinegar
  • several big pinches salt and freshly cracked pepper

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  In meantime, combine tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Once pasta is cooked, drain and let sit for just a few minutes so not quite so hot.  After its cooled just a bit, add pasta to bowl with tomatoes.  Add in the balsamic vinegar, basil, and any more salt or pepper needed for seasoning.  Give it all a big stir and serve.

Tuna Pesto Pasta Salad

Wow, Tuna Pesto Pasta Salad is a total tongue twister…but that really has no relevance to anything else, just thought I’d point that out.  Anywho, as I’ve stated, I’ve had a lot of pesto on hand, and I am using it on everything.  Here, I mix tuna, pesto, whole wheat pasta, and just a big assorted mix of random things from my fridge to make a really tasty salad.  If you don’t have all the below ingredients, no worries.  Like I alluded to, this is kind of “kitchen sink” salad, so just work with what you have.  We usually keep quite a few “Mediterranean-ish” staples on hand, so that is what we went with, plus I had a green pepper from my garden to add!

I added some of my fancy basil oil to it.

Tuna Pesto Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta (we used penne)
  • Couple handfuls of mixed greens
  • 2 red spring onions, sliced thin on a mandoline
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas, blanched (use frozen peas, not blanched, if no fresh)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1 medium sized green pepper, diced
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water.  Drain and drizzle with just a tad (maybe 1 tablespoon) olive oil.

In meantime, mix onions, peas, red peppers, olives, green pepper, and tuna together.  Mix with a third of the pesto.

Once pasta has cooled, add pasta to tuna-veggie mixture and combine.  Add remaining pesto and a tablespoon of olive oil.

To serve, mix greens with a tablespoon of olive oil and put on plate.  Put couple of scoops tuna pasta mixture on lettuce and top with some shaved Parmesan.

Wish I would of had radishes from my garden to toss in.

Breakfast Salad

We have a new restaurant in town, and I’m already in love with one of their salads.  At American Harvest Eatery, they try to source most of their products locally, and their theme is kind  of an upscale comfort food thing, without being stuffy.  With radishes and mixed greens being in season, and us having harvested quite a bit of each from our garden, I decided to try my hand at re-creating this salad that includes radishes, bacon, croutons, greens, a hot sauce vinaigrette, and then finished with a sunny side up egg.

My take on American Harvest's Breakfast Salad

Breakfast Salad

Makes 4 small-ish salads

  • 4 handfuls of mixed greens (maybe 6 cups ish?)
  • 6 slices bacon, cut up
  • bread, cut up into crouton-sized pieces -about 2 cups worth (Ideally day old bread that is not super soft)
  • 12-15 radishes, cut in half long-ways
  • green onions, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs
  • Hot Sauce Vinaigrette, recipe below

Cook bacon in pan on stove over medium heat, until bacon is cooked through and browned.  Drain off grease (throw grease out or save for some other use.)

Toss bread with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake on sheet pan in single layer in 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes, shaking pan once to move around croutons, until brown and crisp.  Set aside to cool after they come out of oven

Toss radishes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in oven in single layer on sheet pan for about  8-10 minutes, shaking pan once during cooking.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Just before cooking eggs, toss greens with bacon, green onions, croutons, radishes, and vinaigrette and arrange on plates.

To cook eggs, heat a non-stick pan over medium to medium high heat. I just do 2 eggs at a time.  Coat pan with some fat (reserved bacon grease from earlier if you so choose – or just spray it with some Pam cooking spray – whateves).  Once pan is thoroughly heated, gently crack egg into pan.  The idea here is to keep the egg in a somewhat nice oval so the white does not spread all over the pan and they keep a consistant size so they cook evenly and look pretty.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook, turning heat down to just a little under medium if need be.

To get egg white cooked without over-cooking the yolk, add about 1-2 teaspoons of water per egg to the pan after egg has cooked for about 2 minutes and then cover with a lid for about 2 minutes.  Remove lid and let cook about another 30 seconds to one minute, and egg should be good to go at this point and can be placed on top of salad.

Radishes from our garden.

Hot Sauce Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon sriacha
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • about1/3 cup vegetable oil

Whisk sriacha, mustard, vinegar, and honey together in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in vegetable oil until mixture is emulsified. (I use veggie oil here instead of olive oil because I feel like the olive flavor is too pungent for this.)  Season with salt and pepper.


Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

We had quite a bit of leftover chicken from smoking two whole chickens, so I decided to make chicken salad with some of it.  I used mainly the white meat for chicken salad.   I wanted to complement the smoky flavor of the chicken so I went with a kind of sweet, spicy, smoky combo.  We served ours on a whole wheat English muffin, but you could use whatever bread strikes your fancy.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

  • About two cups chicken meat (I used breast and wing meat), picked off the bone and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 heaping tablespoons homemade mayo
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (or some type of smokey chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix chicken, green onions, pecans, and dried cranberries.  In a small bowl, combine mayo, both chili powders, and sugar.  Mix mayo into chicken mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Serve on bread of your choice.

One of a Million Tasty Ways to Marinate and Grill Chicken

So, it’s grilling season (finally), and what is about the easiest thing to do on the grill? Aside from slapping some hotdogs on it?  Grilled chicken!  However, if you are not careful, grilled chicken can be one of the easiest things to really mess up, especially white meat.  I suppose I should mention that I very much prefer dark meat over white meat.  So much juicier, tender, and flavorful.  But, once in a while we will do a whole chicken on the grill (back bone cut out and butterflied open into two halves) and if you master the grill right, even the white meat turns out well.

And what is the key to doing this? Indirect heat!  Yes, say it with me now, “Indirect heat!”  Meaning, once your coals are hot either shove them all to one side and then cook on the other side of the grill;  or, shove half the coals to the far left side and the other half of the coals to the far right and grill your food right in the center.  I think the choice comes down to how much food you have or how big your cuts of meat are.  Cooking with indirect heat will stop the problem of the outer part of your meat being dry and charred, while the inside is not cooked through yet.  In addition, it is important to keep your lid down most of the time because this helps to keep the inside temp of your grill nice and roasty and this helps to more evenly cook your meat.

Asian BBQ Chicken with Peanut Sauce Pasta Salad

Asian BBQ Chicken with Peanut Sauce Pasta Salad

  • 4 chicken quarters (we used thigh and leg quarters)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Peanut Sauce Pasta Salad (recipe below)

Whisk all ingredients except chicken in bowl.  Pour marinade over chicken, either in a freezer bag on in a large, shallow baking dish.  Let marinate about 3-6 hours, but up to 12 if preferred.  Remove from marinade and scrape off excess liquid.  Season with salt and pepper.

Grill over indirect heat.  Place skin side down and let grill about 20 minutes.  Flip and let grill another 15 – 20 minutes depending on the size of your chicken.  Remove from gill and let rest at least 5 minutes.

Peanut Sauce Pasta Salad

  • Handful of spaghetti (just eye it) – feel free to use Soba noodles if you have some on hand!
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/3 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup peanut sauce (my recipe from previous post)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon  plus 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, divided

Cook pasta accordingly and drain thoroughly.  Toss with 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil.  When pasta has cooled slightly (still about room temp), toss with both bell peppers, red and green onion.

Chicken with a glass of the Hubs home-brewed IPA

To make sauce, mix peanut sauce, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Toss into pasta salad until nicely coated.  Don’t use all of sauce if not necessary.  Toss salad with peanuts and cilantro.  Serve around room temperature.