Sorry it’s taken me so long to post this. The week has not been off to a great start, thanks to an ice storm that has left me housebound with a semi-sick toddler. Here is the dish I developed to meet my husband’s challenge last week for a satisfying salad that works as a meal.
- Husband: thumbs up! Comments: “delicious,” “flavorful,” “satisfying,” so I guess I scored on all counts.
- Toddler: thumbs down! He didn’t even try the deconstructed version I made for him. Comments: “I don’t like tay-mos,” which is a bold-faced lie, by the way.
- Me: thumbs up! Would I make this again? Definitely!
I love chopped salads, so I decided to start from there, and I went with Italian flavors because Italian is my husband’s favorite cuisine. The salad even has all the colors of the Italian flag: red, green and white. I thought it looked great on the plate. I wanted to combine a lot of textures and bold flavors in the dish, and also to incorporate some protein and bread to make it really satisfying as a meal.
For the base of the salad I used two greens, romaine and butter lettuce, which I sliced into ribbons. I wanted to use baby spinach, but when I got to the store that day, absolutely all of the salad greens were gone. We were scheduled to have an ice storm, so I figured that had to have something to do with it. I’ve heard of runs on milk and bread in the face of adverse weather, but not runs on salad, so I guess people really are eating healthier these days. I grabbed the only lettuce that was left: a head of butter lettuce. Fortunately, it worked out, because my husband loved both the lettuces I used.
The rest of the components suggested themselves: broiled chicken for heft; green beans for crunch; grape tomatoes and picante peppers for acid and brightness; mozzarella cheese for a creamy contrast; and Parmesan crostini fill in for the bread. The recipe follows. Please note that I didn’t measure exact amounts, so use your best judgment if you decide to make it. As written, this recipe feeds 2, but it can be easily doubled or tripled.
Italian-style Chopped Salad
For the chicken:
Place 1 boneless chicken breast in an oven-safe pan. Salt and pepper both sides, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan, dried oregano and the zest and juice of ½ lemon.
On the stovetop, cook the chicken uncovered over medium-high heat until it is halfway cooked through. Turn on the broiler and transfer the pan to the oven. Finish cooking the chicken through — the top should be browned and the Parmesan melted — and set aside to cool. Slice thinly.
For the dressing:
Combine in a jar:
- the remaining zest and juice of the lemon
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper
Shake to combine well and set aside. You may have to mix the dressing again just before dressing the salad.
To assemble the salad:
Trim 2 large handfuls green beans and snap in half if the pieces are long. Blanch for a minute or two in boiling water, then transfer to an ice bath.
Wash and halve about half the contents of a container of grape tomatoes.
Cut 1 ball of fresh mozzarella into cubes.
Thinly slice a small handful of peperoncini or piquante peppers packed in vinegar.
Thinly slice into ribbons 1 small head romaine lettuce and ½ head butter lettuce. Toss in a bowl with half the dressing.
Place some salad greens on each of two plates. On top arrange the green beans, tomatoes and sliced chicken. Drizzle the remaining dressing over. Scatter the peppers and mozzarella over the top.
Cut 4 thin slices of bread from a French baguette. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Mound freshly grated Parmesan on top. Put under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (watch closely!) until the cheese is melted and the crostini have browned. Serve immediately on the side of the salads.