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Posts Tagged ‘bell pepper’

When life gives you leftovers, make salad!

Leftover protein and vegetables are amazing in salads. It’s a quick, easy way to make a delicious, nutritious meal. It’s cost-effective, because the leftover ingredients go further in a salad than they would on their own, and it’s fun, because you’re not actually eating the same damn thing twice in a week.

So, I was short on time and creativity, and I had some excellent leftover chicken tenderloins and some cooked corn. I rooted around for lettuce, mandarins, fresh herbs, and other veggies, and I made the best of it.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Lime Citronette, Leftover Chicken, Mandarins, Mint, and Cilantro

The ingredients, ready to be transformed!

Ingredients:
(Serves two as a meal.)
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped.
2 scallions, chopped.
3 mandarins, peeled, cut in half, and quartered.
4 button mushrooms, quartered.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
1 red bell pepper, sliced.
2 chicken tenderloins, leftover, cooked with onion, chopped.
1/2 cup of cooked corn.
1 fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped.
Zest of one lime.

Lime Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a day or two.)
1 T lime juice.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I made a lovely bed of romaine lettuce and zested my lime over it. Then I whipped up my citronette in a small jar, and started chopping. I added the chicken, vegetables, and herbs first, saving the avocado and mandarin for last so that they would be bright and colorful. I don’t like brown avocado, and I prefer for citrus fruit to go into salads at the last minute so it doesn’t wilt the lettuce. Once all of my ingredients were properly sliced and diced, I drizzled the dressing over the top and tossed it before serving it up.

Recipe for Salad with Lime Citronette, Leftover Chicken, Mandarins, Mint, and Cilantro

Rainbow deliciousness, ready to eat!


The Verdict:
Straightforward and delicious. The mint and cilantro brighten up the salad, and the juicy mandarins work well with the creamy avocado. The simplicity of the lime citronette works well with the leftover chicken and corn, and helps bring all of the flavors together. The crunchy red bell pepper and the crisp romaine lettuce keep the salad fresh and the textures diverse. This was a perfect example of how using leftovers meat and cooked veggies in salads is a great way to streamline cooking while keeping the food fun, tasty, and interesting.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a vegan salad, swap out the chicken for garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, shelled edamame, or lightly seasoned tofu, and add a smashed and minced clove of garlic to the lime citronette for a little extra flavor.

Pack it to Go:
As usual, the avocado and citrus fruit go in the jar with the salad dressing (this keeps the avocado from browning and the mandarin juices from wilting the lettuce). Everything else goes in a large glass or stainless steel container with a lid. Combine when you’re ready to fork toss and enjoy!

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Improvising for dinner again, I needed a kid-friendly salad to accompany the chicken tacos they wanted. I went for a southwestern citronette, happy for a chance to play with the ingredients for one of my favorite salads.

I pulled a heart of romaine and some arugula out of the fridge, and grabbed a yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, a cucumber, cilantro, scallions, and of course some citrus fruits. Impressed by the beautiful colors, I snapped a picture and got to work.

Ingredients and Recipe for Salad with Sweet Southwestern Citronette, Arugula, Avocado, and Navel Orange

Here are the ingredients, ready to chop.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves 4-6.)
1 heart of romaine.
2-4 cups of arugula.
1 fistful of cilantro.
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced.
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
5 mushrooms, quartered.
1/4 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
3 scallions, sliced.
1 navel orange, skin sliced off, quartered and sliced.
Zest of one navel orange.
Zest of one lemon.

Southwestern Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T lemon juice.
1 tsp maple syrup.
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp cumin.
1/4 tsp smoked paprika.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Recipe for Salad with Sweet Southwestern Citronette, Arugula, Avocado, and Navel Orange

Tossed and ready to serve!


While the chicken for the tacos cooked, and my husband crisped the corn tortillas, I created a gorgeous bed of salad greens and zested the citrus fruit over the top. Then I juiced the lemon and prepared my citronette in a small jar. I doubled the maple syrup this time (from my typical half of a teaspoon for this type of salad to a full teaspoon). I’m not sure why I did that — in part to appeal to the kids, but it also just tasted right to have a sweeter dressing with the spicy arugula.

With the citronette made and mellowing, I started chopping and adding vegetables to my bowl. I saved the avocado and the navel orange for last so that the avocado would be lusciously green and the citrus juice wouldn’t wilt the lettuce.

Recipe for Salad with Sweet Southwestern Citronette with Arugula, Avocado, and Navel Orange: Plated

On the plate and ready to enjoy!

The Verdict:
The salad was delicious. It worked really well with the tacos, and was devoured by everyone at the table. Complete success!

Make it a Meal:
Easy enough — add pinto beans, black beans, leftover chicken, steak, carnitas, or shrimp, and then sprinkle some corn chips over it for extra crouton-style crunch.

Pack it to Go:
Avocado and orange need to be packed in a jar with the salad dressing. The rest of the salad is fine in a nice large glass or stainless steel container with a good rubber lid. Nestle the jar in the salad container and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, simply shake the dressing and pour it over the salad. Use only what you need (use a fork to pull the yummy fruit out of the jar without getting more citronette than you want). Fork toss your salad, or put the lid back on the salad container and give it a few good shakes to combine. Enjoy!

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We’d all had a big lunch, so I wanted a simple dinner. The kids were happy with sandwiches and fruit, but I craved vegetables. I decided to make a slightly elegant salad — less is more — drenched in a good balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Bell Pepper, Basil, and Chicken

The red bell pepper and basil are ready -- time to chop.

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
3-4 cups mache and mixed greens.
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced.
1/2 fistful of basil, chopped.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste.
2 small chicken tenderloins (fresh or frozen).
1T butter for cooking the chicken.
Garlic powder for the chicken, to taste.
Pinch of salt for the chicken, to taste.

Balsamic vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need, refrigerate extra for several days.)
1 T balsamic vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I doubled all of the ingredients listed above and made two salads. First I mixed up the vinaigrette, giving the garlic time to mellow and infuse the salad dressing with flavor.

Then I cooked the chicken. I keep a bag of the Trader Joe’s frozen chicken breast tenderloins in the freezer, and I use the following method when I don’t have time to bother with defrosting the chicken. I melted the butter in a stainless steel frying pan over medium heat, and added the frozen chicken just as the butter began bubbling. I sprinkled salt and garlic powder over the chicken tenderloins, and let them cook while I chopped the bell pepper.

When the chicken was nice and brown on the bottom, I flipped the tenderloins over and lightly seasoned the other side. I chopped up the basil and cleaned up my salad prep area, and then I checked on the chicken. Once it had browned on the other side, I used a pair of kitchen shears to snip it into bite-sized pieces. My chicken was still raw in the center, so I stirred it around a bit, turned the heat to low, and covered it. If you use fresh chicken instead of frozen, you can probably skip that last step. After a few minutes on low, I took off the lid and turned off the heat. I added the vinaigrette, a dusting of freshly cracked black pepper, and the hot, juicy chicken to the salads, and served them right away.

Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Bell Pepper, Basil, and Chicken

Time to eat!


The Verdict:
Yum!

There is nothing like homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was my gateway salad dressing — the one I absolutely had to learn how to make, and the one I spent years playing with and refining. It’s friendly, and works well with all kinds of fruits, vegetables and flavor palettes, but sometimes, I have to make a salad where the balsamic vinaigrette is the star. This was one of those salads. It all worked very well together. The juicy chicken soaked up just enough dressing to really sparkle. The tender mache paired nicely with the crispy red bell peppers, and the basil brought all the flavors together.

If the ingredients in my fridge ever align just right, I will happily make this salad again.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with either kidney beans, goat cheese, or feta cheese.

Pack it to Go:
This would be very easy to pack to go. The chicken will be cold, but it will still taste delicious. Just keep the vinaigrette and the salad in separate containers until ready to serve (I recommend making the dressing in a small glass jar, and preparing the salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a tupperware-style lid.) Use only as much vinaigrette as you need, fork toss or pop the salad container lid back on and give it a few good shakes, then eat and enjoy.

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I was making curried chicken with potatoes and basmati rice for dinner, and I decided to get creative. I knew I wanted a salad with a creamy dressing to help me tolerate the heat of the spicy curry. Riffing on the idea of raita, I wanted a yogurt salad dressing with lots of cucumber and mint. My plan was to turn that into a flavor base for a rich veggie salad. I pulled out all the vegetables that seemed like they might work, and I tossed in an avocado. I grabbed the cilantro on a whim, and then turned to the spice cupboard. I wanted something to round it out, and to capture a little of the delicious complexity of actual Indian food. I sniffed every jar we had of powdered yumminess from Vik’s Chaat Corner, and finally found what I needed. Fennel powder. My secret ingredient.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Simple veggie ingredients, ready for chopping.


Salad with Kefire Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

A gorgeous green bed of romaine and arugula.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves four.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
3-4 cups of arugula.
1 red bell pepper, sliced.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
6 mushrooms, quartered.
1/3 of an english cucumber, quartered and sliced.
1 small shallot, chopped.
1 large fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Tossed and ready to serve!

Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T plain kefir.
1 T rice wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1/4 tsp fennel powder.

I mixed up the dressing first, playing with it and testing it as I worked by dipping leaves into the jar and tasting. I chopped my romaine and made my bed of greens, gently finger tossing the arugula with the romaine. I sliced, quartered, and chopped all of the vegetables and herbs, adding them while monitoring the curry and listening for the rice timer.

The Verdict:
This salad was amazing. It worked perfectly with the curry. It’s obviously not even remotely authentic Indian cuisine, but it was seriously delicious. My husband was really impressed by the unusual flavors. The creamy dressing clung to the greens, and the variety of fresh vegetables was refreshing and fun alongside the simple, hearty curry. The kids all enjoyed it as well — I thought it would be too weird for them, so we barely had enough to share.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Isn't it lovely on the plate with the curried chicken and potatoes?

Make it a Meal:
I think it could work as a meal as it is, but if you need more protein, I recommend adding simple chicken or garbanzo beans.

Pack it to Go:
.As always, but the avocado in with the dressing and give it a gentle shake to coat it with the acidic vinaigrette to prevent browning. Keep the dressing in a small jar, and all the rest of the salad ingredients in a large container (I recommend glass or stainless steel with a tupperware style lid). When you’re ready to eat, shake up the jar of dressing and drizzle it over the salad. Use only what you need. Fork toss, or put the lid back on the large container and give it a few good shakes to combine. Enjoy.

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I bought a jar of grilled cipolline onions in oil recently, just because they were next to the cocktail onions that were on my grocery list, and I was hungry, and they looked intriguing. The cipolline onions are very tasty, but other than randomly nibbling on them, I haven’t been quite sure how to use them.

While trying to plan a lunch salad, the cipolline onions and a carton of hard boiled eggs caught my eye, and I got an idea. I wanted strong, strong flavors — the intensity of a Nicoise salad, but with a different palette. I pulled out the parmigiano-reggiano, and some vegetables, and got to work. I knew this salad would need some serious crunch to measure up to the soft egg and the slippery onions, so I chose romaine and carrots to diversify the textures.

Cipolline Onion and Egg Ingredients

All the ingredients for two salads.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 scallions, chopped.
1/2 carrot, quartered lengthwise and chopped.
1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced.
1 hard boiled egg, cut into wedges.
1 fistful of basil, chopped.
1 T – 1/4 cup of fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano, to taste.
Cracked pepper, to taste.

Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need; refrigerate extra for several days.)
1T red wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
5 grilled cipolline onions, in oil.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Cipolline Onion and Egg

Two salads, side by side.

I doubled all of the ingredients listed above, and prepared two lunches at the same time — one packed up to go to work with my husband, the other for me to enjoy later in the day. I started by making a nice hearty bed of romaine, and then I chopped up the vegetables and added them. I dusted it all with parmigiano-reggiano and black pepper, and then placed the sliced egg on top. I quickly mixed up my vinaigrette, nestling one jar in my husband’s packed lunch, and leaving the other on the counter for me.

Cipolline Onion and Egg, Eat

Ready to eat!

Verdict:
Powerful flavors. This salad was really delicious. I loved the egg and onion with the parmigiano. The carrot and romaine definitely played a key part. I’m not totally sure about the basil and the orange bell pepper — I think I could’ve omitted both, or maybe just added less of them. I’d like to try this salad again — it was really striking.

Cipolline Onion and Egg, Packed

Packed to go!

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Done. Just keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat, then add only as much as you need, fork toss (or put the lid back on and give it a few quick shakes), and enjoy.

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