Spring Fling Chicken & Nectarine Salad

Spring Fling Nectarine Salad 2017

You can tell I’m feeling a little goofy when I choose a title like Spring Fling Chicken & Nectarine Salad, but it’s a gorgeous spring day and I don’t feel like taking life too seriously all the time. Sometimes we just need to be a little silly.

A friend of mine recently mentioned that they’d found some super ripe and delicious nectarines at my local store. It seemed kind of early in the season but they smelled amazing so I immediately bought a whole bunch of them. I made this salad three days in a row. It is so good! Well, as long as you like “fruit in your food” as I say. Not everybody likes fruit in their savory dishes, but I happen to love the savory-sweet combination and lunchtime salads are always an opportunity to satisfy that particular flavor craving.

Although it’s quite simple, this salad does not disappoint! The flavors balance and support each other in a fairly sophisticated way. The arugula provides a backdrop of bitterness for the mild chicken which is bolstered by pops of juicy sweetness from the nectarine. The toasted almonds bring warmth and depth while the basil and mint provide the freshness. Delicately dressing the salad allows each of the flavors to shine through on their own. I have a feeling this salad will be in my rotation all summer long. In fact, I planted some basil and mint in pots by my door so I could make sure that it does!

I hope you are all celebrating the arrival (finally! for a lot of us) of spring sunshine, warmer days and lovely, long evenings. Let me know if you try this salad and love it too!

Spring Fling Chicken & Nectarine Salad

5 oz. cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)

1 ripe nectarine

2 handfuls of arugula

a little red onion sliced very thinly

1/2 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted

7-8 basil leaves, thinly sliced (about 2 Tbsp.)

12 mint leaves, thinly sliced (about 2 Tbsp.)

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

salt

lots of cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Mix together mayonnaise and vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper in the bottom of a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add arugula to the bowl.
  3. Chop chicken and nectarine into 1/2″ sized bites and add to the bowl with the arugula.
  4. Add onion and almond slivers along with the sliced herbs.
  5. Toss everything together, add a little salt and pepper, and taste. Add more pepper if it needs it and enjoy!

 

Spicy Cauliflower Salad

Spicy Cauliflower Salad 2016

Salads of all sorts get me feeling light and fresh and nourished so I make them all the time. They are also capable of dazzling my taste buds. I definitely love meat and potatoes and other things, but salads…you can do anything with a salad! I suppose it helps to love vegetables, but part of what makes them special is what you do to them. If you haven’t found a way to prepare cauliflower that you like yet, maybe just keep going! Or zucchini or broccoli or green beans. Keep trying different preparations and maybe you’ll discover that they’re pretty delicious after all.

If you’re already a veggie-lover, then here’s another little something to throw together and serve with something grilled. Crunch from the cauliflower, tender roasted peppers, a little kick from the sport peppers – yum!

Spicy Cauliflower Salad

Salad:

1 bag frozen cauliflower florets

1 roasted red bell pepper

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 c. black olives, sliced

8 sport peppers, minced about 3 Tbsp. (or pepperoncini)

3 Tbsp. minced fresh chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 small clove of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Steam the frozen cauliflower lightly (the instructions called for 6 1/2 minutes, I cooked it for 4 minutes). Drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the roasted bell pepper into strips and add to the cauliflower along with the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, minced peppers, and chives. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad.
  4. Mix well, tossing until everything is coated.
  5. Allow the salad to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes or more so the flavors can meld.
  6. Adjust the seasonings with a little more salt and pepper if desired and enjoy!

Chicken Faux-tato Salad

Chicken Faux-tato Salad 2 2016

I can hardly call this a recipe. It’s really something that comes together with a few ingredients that I tend to have on hand, and then I’m quite flexible with the quantities. My chicken thighs were cooked on the bone and they were giant, so I only used two. But if you have frozen ones, they tend to be smaller so I’d add more. It can be different every time, too. Don’t be afraid to experiment – it’s very forgiving. If I have more celery or more pickles or fewer eggs or less chicken, it really doesn’t matter. And if I had some parsley or dill on hand, I’d have been tempted to add it. Capers could have gone in or shredded carrots – in fact all kinds of variations exist. But on this day, for this blog post, this was the combination that came together.

I have been mentoring an 11 year old girl for the past few weeks and I bring my lunch while she gets hers from the school. I noticed that she likes vegetables in general and that she’s been a little curious about what I bring. I asked if she’d like me to bring her some to try and she said yes the last time, so I brought this today. She doesn’t like cauliflower, but she loves pickles so she thought it was worth it. She skipped the cauliflower, but devoured the rest. I think the cauliflower is totally innocuous and almost like potatoes, but not everyone agrees. I think it tastes a lot like a traditional potato salad, only it’s not.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Because I use frozen cauliflower, it’s super easy to pull together. No mess, nothing to worry about, and the cauliflower is already blanched so it’s tender. I hope you like it!

Chicken Faux-tato Salad

2-3 cooked chicken thighs, chopped

12 oz. frozen cauliflower, thawed and roughly chopped

1-2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

5-6 small pickles, finely chopped

2 large celery stalks, finely chopped

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

4 tsp. mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Take all of your chopped ingredients and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the mustard and mayonnaise and mix well, ensuring everything is evenly coated.
  3. Taste and add salt and pepper. It needs salt, but the pickles are salty and so is the mustard, so be sure to taste first.
  4. Once it’s the way you like it, enjoy!

Serves about 2

Tropical Tuna Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

Tropical Tuna Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing 2015The time of year is coming when I begin making salad after salad after salad. It’s one of my favorite things to eat and, truth be told, I actually eat salad year round. My son has cringed on more than one occasion when I’ve made salad for breakfast. It’s really not complicated. I just love salads.

We like to make a giant tuna or chicken salad to serve as lunches throughout the week. It’s also something that I can quickly take for post-workout. I load my salads with so many vegetables that it really satisfies my desire to have a big plate of something delicious, too. Since I’m a fan of savory-sweet combinations, I often throw in some kind of fruit when I’m making one.

On this occasion, I added pineapple which also made an appearance in the dressing. If I’d had some coconut flakes on hand, those would have been nice toasted with a touch of salt and maybe a little allspice. I added red pepper flakes to mine when I served it and really appreciated how they kicked up the flavor. So go ahead and experiment – whatever helps get more vegetables on the plate seems like a great idea to me!

Tropical Tuna Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

Salad

20 oz. of tuna, drained

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 scallions, chopped

16 oz. slaw (I used bagged slaw because it was fast)

20 oz. can of pineapple tidbits in juice, drained, reserving juice

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Dressing

1/4 c. of reserved pineapple juice

1/4 oz. fresh ginger, grated about 2 tsp.

zest of 1/2 lemon

juice from a whole lemon

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 c. Paleo Mayo

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper or red pepper flakes, optional

Directions

1) In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.

2) Add all of the salad ingredients, except the toasted almonds, to the bowl with the dressing.

3) Toss the salad thoroughly, making sure all of the dressing is integrated.

4) Allow the salad to sit for about 10 minutes in the fridge so the flavors can meld.

5) Toss again, taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes as desired.

Serves 4-6

Curried Cucumber Salad

Curried Cucumber Salad 2014We have had some absolutely stunning weather in Colorado these past few days. I know that we will have snow and cold again, and I even know that it won’t be long before that happens, but the gorgeous sunshine and warmer temperatures have me believing that summer is just around the corner.

Last summer had a few transformative moments for me, some things I did a little differently than I have in the past or than I normally would. Some special people moved further away, while other special friends found a spot in my heart. I spent many evenings walking in the sunshine, and many, many more days cooking vegetables that I had grown in my very first garden. Honestly, I love that memory – I even love that I spent most of those summer months with scratches on my arms and legs from wandering through my garden and weeding and harvesting. The thought of summer coming and my next garden has me thinking about what it might look like this year, how it might be different, what other transformations are on the horizon.

I guess that’s what spring is for, actually, isn’t it? New growth, small changes, an opportunity for renewal. Much like the new year has me exploring resolutions, I’ve noticed that this time of year has a similar feel to it, only it’s far gentler. There seems to be a subtle shift in the air that allows for the heart to open and be ready for the sunshine to come in. That thought makes me think that there is also a purpose in the inevitable last few cold weeks and even a few snow storms. I think that for me, at least, those colder days will provide an opportunity to sit quietly with a blanket and cup of tea or glass of wine and let the possibilities of spring settle in and take shape. I wish sometimes we all had simpler lives so that we could follow the natural rhythm of the seasons more closely.

On to this recipe – there actually is a reason that it came about! The thoughts of a summer garden reminded me of all the cucumbers that I had last year. They were so sweet and delicious and I ate them constantly. For a few weeks, there were so many that I was eating them three times a day. This salad became a favorite of mine because I happen to love Indian food and while it’s a lot simpler than the amazing dishes you can find in Indian cuisine, it does bring those warm flavors to the table incredibly fast. Sometimes that’s really all I’m looking for.

I hope you enjoy it!

Curried Cucumber Salad

3 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

2 tsp. fresh lime juice, about 1/2 a lime

3/4 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

1 scallion, sliced

Directions

1) In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lime juice, curry powder and salt.

2) In a serving bowl, place the cucumber slices, parsley, and scallions. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Enjoy!

Serves 2-3

Grilled Zucchini Salad

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon Thyme 2014Summer is in full swing and we’ve been having very garden-friendly weather in Colorado. It’s been wet and not too hot and things are really taking off now. Zucchini has been making an appearance in more meals than I can count lately and when I’ve fired up the grill, I almost always toss some on. If I don’t use it right away, I’ll stick it in the fridge and either have it for a snack or add it to something later on. It’s such an easy veggie to have on hand for snacks, but then again, I love just about any vegetable at any time. Except okra, in case you were wondering. I absolutely abhor okra. Maybe one day someone will convince me otherwise but for now, if a recipe calls for okra, I’d probably substitute zucchini. 🙂

The herbs that I planted this year include basil (lots), dill, and lemon thyme. To be honest, I don’t always know what to do with thyme other than add it to soups and stews, mostly in the fall. And lemon thyme is a bit different – mine at least has a pretty big punch of lemon. I have a lot of it though, so I’ve been adding it rather randomly to see what I think. In this case, I knew that I wanted a citrusy counterpoint for the zucchini and I also wanted to add some dill, which is good friends with lemon too. The combination was bright and lively and it really felt like a summer evening by the grill to me. If you have different herbs that you need to use, by all means do that! These vegetables and the lemon vinaigrette are very friendly and would go with just about anything – basil, parsley, chives, rosemary. Whatever you have on hand would probably be delicious. I thought this salad improved with a little sitting time and was perfect next to eggs the next morning so don’t hesitate to make a bunch and save some for leftovers.

Grilled Zucchini Salad

4 zucchini

2 tsp. + 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

pinch of garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper, plus more to taste

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

about 8 kalamata olives, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

juice from 1/2 a lemon

about 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

3-4 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme, about 1 Tbsp. chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Slice the zucchini lengthwise into quarters. Place in a bowl or plate and toss with 2 tsp. olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for about 10 minutes.

2) Grill the spears over medium heat until soft and charred on all sides. Time will vary depending on heat, etc. so just keep an eye on them and grill to your liking.

3) Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Chop into one-inch chunks and place in a bowl.

4) While the zucchini are cooling, mix the mustard, lemon juice, and Tbsp. of olive oil in a small bowl and chop or slice the tomatoes, onion, and olives. Add these to the bowl with the zucchini.

5) Add the chopped fresh herbs, the dressing, and toss everything well. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes before adjusting salt and pepper and serving. This salad can be eaten slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold. They’re all delicious!

Serves 4

Zoodle Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil

Tomato Basil Salad on Zucchini Noodles 2014Having a garden is amazing and rewarding and to actually eat things that I planted just weeks ago gets me excited every single time. There is something truly fulfilling and gratifying and I can’t wait to experiment with other vegetables next year. This year, however, the learning piece has included zucchini plants. I had a bit of a debate with the person at the nursery where I purchased my little seedlings about how many to plant together because the little stick said to plant two. My neighbors have since smiled…and locked their doors. Apparently, they don’t want to share in my bounty! 😉

I am not intimidated, though, since I have a million ways to prepare zucchini. And a spiral slicer, which helps immensely. Zoodles rule and I really can’t imagine getting sick of them so you might see a few more recipes over the course of the summer. I hope they serve as launching pads for your own ideas and that you’ll share whatever magic you are making happen in your own kitchen!

Zoodle Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil

3-4 zucchini

1 Tbsp. salt

1 c. tomatoes, chopped

6 kalamata olives

1 tsp. pinenuts, toasted

2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

small clove of garlic

1/3 c. fresh basil chiffonade

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Spiral slice or julienne the zucchini and place in a strainer over the sink. Toss with salt and allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse well and cut into shorter zoodles, if necessary.

2) In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, oil, and garlic and set aside.

3) Place zucchini in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, and basil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well to combine.

4) Chill the salad for about 15 minutes, then add pepper and additional salt, if desired. Enjoy!

Serves 2

*Note: The proportions in this salad are totally flexible. Use what you have and what you like!