June 21, 2012

This Week In Food...Two Simple Summer Salads, Delicious!

I've been out of the blogging loop for a bit again. I don't know what happens, exactly. One week I'm plugging away, and the next week things just fall apart on me. And fall apart they have. I'm not certain what prompted my most recent breakdown (like an old car on the side of the road), but something happened after a Father's Day spent in happy servitude and, well, Monday, the wheels came off the bus. I think it'd been building for a few weeks. Not enough "me time" (read: not ANY me time, really), not enough sleep, too much going on, no two mornings a week of preschool for Portia...maybe it was my baby turning one that pushed me over the edge, I just don't know. Anyway, I am working on putting the pieces of my sanity back together now (read: babysitter, yoga and wine...not all at once, though) and thought I'd take a few minutes to share some recipes we've enjoyed in the last couple of weeks.

Summer salads! It is HOT here this week, so who wants to heat up the kitchen even more with a hot stove? Not me. So I've been leaning heavy on salads and side dishes of fruit...which, let's be honest, my waistline could use as well (now if I could just get my evening snacking under control and I'll be all set!). So, both of these salads are super easy and super yummy (my favorite combo) and both are originally from Cooking Light.

Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Creamy Dill Dressing
2 1/2 c. asparagus, cut on the diagonal in 2 inch pieces
2 c. shredded or cubed cooked chicken breast
1/2 c. thin-sliced radishes
Creamy Dill Dressing (see below)
8 fresh, ripe tomato slices
Fresh ground black pepper

1/2 c. lowfat mayo (can use regular mayo)
1/2 c. low/no-fat buttermilk (can use regular buttermilk)
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice from half a lemon)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in large bowl and stir well with a whisk. Steam the asparagus until crisp-tender (about 3-5 minutes). Drain, plunge in ice water till cool, then drain again. Add asparagus, chicken and radishes to bowl and toss well. Serve salad atop tomato slices and top with fresh ground pepper.

Seriously, this is so good! My daughter loved it. Even my one year old ate it. And I was sopping up the dressing with bread. And, it took no time to make. A real summer winner!

Whole Wheat Mediterranean Panzanella
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (I use regular balsamic)
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
6 1/2 c. chopped tomato (3 large tomatoes)...OR...3 red, yellow and/or orange peppers (I make it with peppers because my husband doesn't like tomatoes, and it is so good this way!)
1 1/2 c. cubed english cucumber
1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives (I omit these because I'm not a huge olive fan.)
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, torn
6 oz. whole wheat country-style bakery bread torn or cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups, or a little more than half a typical loaf)
1 4 oz package crumbled feta cheese (I've even used goat cheese before, when that was all I had on hand, so you can substitute accordingly...but feta's the best.)

Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl and stir with whisk. Add veggies and mix. Add bread and cheese and toss gently until well combined. Serve immediately. Keep the oil and vinegar on hand and once everything is combined see if you'd like a little more moisture in the salad--I've added extra dressing before. If so, just mix the oil and vinegar in the same ratio as above in a small bowl, then pour over salad and toss a bit more.

This is really yummy and light. We eat it as dinner, but it could also be a great side dish when you're grilling out-- great with grilled chicken or with burgers and dogs.

Serve both of these salads with a side of fruit...maybe watermelon and honeydew? And I recommend a loaf of bakery sourdough with the Chicken Salad. And if your sanity is anywhere near the place mine has been lately, a nice glass of wine should be had, as well (sauvignon blanc or chardonnay would pair nicely with them...though I like a nice pinot noir or light, red blend, myself).

That's it for this week in food. Enjoy the salads and stay cool...and, of course, happy cooking!

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