Have you tried adding grains to your salad??
Because it’s AWESOME!
They make salads way more filling and delicious.
Kind of like a burrito bowl… but SALAD.
One of my favorite grains to add is farro.
Farro is a delicious & tender wheat grain that cooks quickly & soaks up the flavor of whatever you cook it in.
That’s the key.
If you just boil the grains in water, you’ll end up with bland, tasteless grains that won’t really add anything to your salad.
But if you add aromatics to the cooking-water, like garlic, bay leaf, & fresh herbs, you’ll infuse the grains with a punch of delicious flavor.
In this recipe, I simmered my farro in salted water with a few smashed cloves of garlic & a bay leaf. It might not sound like much, but you can REALLY taste the difference.
So, I know it’s mid-winter, but I think I’m craving summer barbecues, because I decided to pump this salad up with smoky-charred flavors.
Charred broccoli & grilled chicken.
I LOOOOVEEEE grilled things. That smoky flavor reminds me of summers by the pool, family get togethers, and worry-free afternoons. I can never get enough. Plus, adding grilled meats & veggies makes the salad feel more like a hearty meal.
Sprinkled with creamy tangy goat cheese & a bright dill vinaigrette, this salad is perfectly balanced and uh-mazingly delicious.
- 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 7 cloves garlic, lightly smashed, and peels removed
- Liberal pinch of kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 large head romaine lettuce
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked farro perlato (pearled)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 heads broccoli, cut into ~3/4 inch florets
- 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill
Place the chicken breasts in a large ziplock freezer bag or glass/pyrex dish. Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup parsley, 3 sprigs thyme, 3 cloves smashed garlic, and a liberal pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Seal the bag & shake well to distribute, or if using a dish, use your hands to mix everything together and turn the chicken breasts to coat well. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water afterwards! Seal the bag or cover the dish & place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight or at least 4 hours.
When you’re ready to start cooking dinner, place a grill pan or a large heavy bottomed skillet on the stove. Warm over high heat & add the chicken, shaking off any extra marinade before placing on the pan. Grill/cook for ~6-8 minutes per side, until nicely charred & the internal temp reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have an actual grill, you can also grill the chicken! Remove from the pan/grill and set aside while you prep the rest of the salad.
Next, fill a medium saucepan with water, add a generous pinch of salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Add the farro, 3 cloves crushed garlic, and 1 bay leaf. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, remove the bay leaf and garlic cloves, and set aside.
As the farro cooks, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the broccoli florets on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil & season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat & spread the florets out evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for roughly 20 minutes, until the florets are nicely charred. Remove the broccoli from the baking sheet and place on a plate to cool.
In a mini food processor, add 2 tablespoons fresh dill, 1 clove peeled garlic, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, and few cracks of salt and pepper. Blend until combined, and pour into a small bowl.
Chop the romaine, wash well, & spin dry with a salad spinner. Slice the chicken breasts into thin slices, get out serving plates or bowls & get ready to assemble the salads.
Start with a bed of lettuce on each plate, top with a few generous scoops of farro, slices from 3/4 of a chicken breast, 1/4th of the charred broccoli, and 1/4th of the goat cheese. Drizzle generously with the dill dressing and enjoy!
I love salads topped with protein.
Be it chicken, salmon, steak, tuna, or even just beans, I love it all!
Protein topped salads are one of the most satisfying meals out there.
The salad itself loads you up on greens, and all the delicious add-ins help you stock up on fiber-rich fruits, veggies, & nuts.
The fats in the cheese and/or dressing help slow the digestion of your meal (keeping you fuller, longer) and boost your absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K.
The protein topper adds some heft to the meal, and leaves you feeling super satisfied, since protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients.
Lately I’ve been all about crispy chicken toppers! They’re like homemade chicken tenders, lightly panfried in a skillet. They’re quick, easy, & taste so so so much better than anything store bought. Seriously, look at that beauty: (!!)
Simply pound your chicken breasts into thin cutlets, dredge in egg & seasoned panko, and pan fry for a few minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Since the chicken is pounded thinly, it cooks evenly & quickly, and has a fabulous ratio of golden crust to juicy moist chicken. It’s seriously one of the best ways to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts. YUM!
Crispy chicken pieces + grapes + apples + celery + walnut + herbed blue cheese dressing.
Sounds delicious, right?
The sweet fresh fruit & crisp celery pair perfectly with moist flavorful chicken and the savory-tang of the blue cheese dressing. This salad is sweet & savory done right.
Serve with a slice of grilled baguette or small cup to tomato soup and you’re good to GO.
- 5 oz baby lettuce blend of your choice
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped fuji apple
- 1 cup halved red grapes
- 1 cup walnut halves & pieces
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- Zest of 1/2 organic lemon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan/romano cheese blend (I use Trader Joe’s)
- up to 1/2 cup olive oil
- plastic wrap or waxed paper
Place the baby greens, celery, apple, and grapes in a large serving bowl & keep cool in the fridge.
Add the walnut pieces to a small skillet and toast on medium-low heat, stirring often, until fragrant and golden, just a few minutes. Remove from the skillet and let cool, then add to the salad bowl with the greens, celery, and fruit.
Next, make the dressing. In a medium bowl, mix together the red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, gorgonzola, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon zest, parsley, chives, garlic, pepper, and salt. When evenly combined, store in the fridge until the salad is ready to assemble.
Finally, make the crispy chicken!
Cut off any extra fat or connective tissue from your chicken breasts, then lay one breast on a large cutting board. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap or waxed paper (to prevent chicken juice splatter), and then pound to 1/4th inch thickness using a meat mallet. If you don’t have one, you can use a heavy bottomed skillet to pound the meat instead.
Pound each chicken breast individually, replacing the plastic wrap or waxed paper as needed, and set them aside on a plate.
In a medium bowl, beat the 2 eggs until smooth & set aside.
On a large plate, mix together the panko, oregano, salt, pepper, and parmesan.
Add roughly 1/4th cup olive oil to a large nonstick skillet. Enough to coat the entire pan with a thin layer for pan frying. Place on the stove and heat over medium-high flame.
Take 1 chicken breast, dip it into the beaten eggs to coat well on both sides, then lay it on the plated panko mixture. Use your hands to turn the chicken cutlet & pat the breading onto all sides.
When the cutlet is well coated with panko, carefully add it to the hot oil in your skillet. While the first chicken cutlet is cooking, repeat the egg-wash & breading process with a second piece of chicken and add it to the hot pan as well. Cook the cutlets 2-3 minutes on each side, until the panko coating is nice and golden and crispy. When the first 2 pieces are done, remove to a plate and set aside.
Add a few more tablespoons of oil to the pan (however much is needed to generously re-coat the skillet) and repeat the entire process for the second two chicken breasts.
Once the chicken breasts are done, let rest for a few minutes, then thinly slice on the diagonal. Place 1/4th of the salad mixture into each of 4 large bowls, drizzle generously with dressing, and top with the the crispy chicken pieces. Enjoy right away!
Store any extra dressing in the fridge & use for dipping veggies or spooning onto veggie-filled pitas. Leftover chicken pieces make great “chicken-nugget” snacks.
This salad was inspired by the CUTEST bunch of radishes I have ever seen.
Instead of the typical large round radishes, this bunch was quaintly clustered up like a small bunch of grapes. ADORBS.
I couldn’t resist throwing them in my cart.
For some reason, radishes just scream “Pair me with butter lettuce, please!”.
So of course I obliged.
Have you guys seen the LIVING butter lettuce they sell at the grocery store? It comes in a clam shell packaging with the roots and some dirt still attached! So the lettuce is literally still fresh and thriving when take it home. (Of course the farmers market is still #1, but this takes second place- just make sure to recycle the packaging!)
So anyways, I’m a staunch believer of the throw-things-in-a-bowl salad method.
Truly, 99% of the time, salads shouldn’t require a recipe. They are SO forgiving!
This butter lettuce salad was pretty off the cuff. Just toss some tender lettuce morsels with slightly bitter radishes, tangy feta cheese, and vinegar-soaked shallots and slather with a classic vinaigrette.
Once you have the basic salad blueprint down (lettuce + any veggies + cheese/nuts + classic vinaigrette), salads become an excellent way to clean out the fridge and add veggies to any meal.
Try your hand at this basic salad, and then try making your own delicious combinations!
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large head butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
- 5 oz crumbled feta
In a small non-reactive bowl, add the shallot and cover with the red wine vinegar. Season with a little salt and pepper and let rest on the counter while you prep the rest of the ingredients. The longer the shallots marinate in vinegar, the more tender and mellow they’ll become.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, lemon zest, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Add the butter lettuce to a large serving bowl. Drain the shallots & discard the red wine vinegar marinade. Sprinkle the shallots over the salad, followed by the radishes and the feta. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss with salad spoons. Enjoy right away!