One of the books on my Book List for 2014 is Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I’m not sure why I haven’t read it until now as it’s been recommended to me countless times and I gave it to both my mom and mom-in-law for Mother’s Day. But now I’m halfway through and totally in love. Her thoughts on food and community are rich and real, blanketed with recipes and with stories invoking laughter and tears. I’ve already tried her enchiladas, which are incredible, and I can’t wait to try everything else!
One of my favorite things she shares is her philosophy on feasting and fasting. The idea that in life there are times of feasting, indulging mostly around holidays and vacations, which can be followed by times of fasting, eating a stricter more careful diet, with some treats in moderation. I love this idea. We don’t have to feel guilty about eating that extra sugar cookie or drinking a huge mug of hot cocoa when we balance it with a season of grilled salmon and mixed greens and spinach upon spinach.
This really encouraged me as today I’ve started the 21 Day Sugar Detox. After a hearty time of holiday feasting, I’ve felt the need to freshen up our meals. Inspired by my friend Alexa who has a wonderful blog, aptly named, Kitchenspired, I’m jumping in! Find out more here or follow Alexa’s journey.
Today’s salad is a lovely combination of flavors that can be enjoyed in a season of feasting or fasting. (Although it’s off limits for the detox.) Over the holidays, we went to a delicious little restaurant in Rockwall, Texas called Zanatas. Upon fist bite of their house salad, I knew I’d want it again, so here’s my recreation, which I think is pretty similar. I hope you try it!
Mixed Green Salad with Figs, Red Onion, Candied Pistachios, Feta Cheese & Lemony Dressing
4 handfuls of mixed greens
6 dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 tablespoon salt
for the dressing
Adapted from Power Foods
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large shallot, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
(You’ll have extra, use on other salads or sandwiches!)
For the candied pistachios: preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt and water. Add pistachios, stir to combine. Place a piece of parchment paper on a small baking sheet. Spoon pistachios onto parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Mix together lemon juice, Dijon, olive oil minced shallot, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
In a salad bowl, place mixed greens, diced red onions, feta, chopped figs and candied pistachios. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of dressing, combine and add more if needed.
The perfect summertime meal is a salad with some sort of grilled meat. I love the smokey charred flavor of chicken or fish paired with light, fresh vegetables. These chicken and red onion kabobs are bursting with flavor: a combination of the grill and the tangy buttermilk marinade/dressing. The addition of sliced cucumber, sweet grapes, and creamy avocado makes this salad fresh and flavor packed.
Buttermilk Grilled Chicken + Chopped Salad
Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazinehttp://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/buttermilk-chicken-kebabs-with-chopped-salad/
2/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Zest of 1 lemon plus 1/4 cup juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1 1/2pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 head romain, leaves torn
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced in chunks
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup red grapes, halved
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.
In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, olive oil, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with half of the buttermilk mixture.
Thread chicken and red onion chunks onto 8 skewers.
Grill, turning frequently, until cooked through and browned in spots, 13 to 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss together the romaine, cucumber, avocado and grapes. Drizzle with the remaining buttermilk mixture; season. Serve the salad with the kebabs.
I love that this recipe uses cucumber because my cucumber plant is literally taking over! Apparently, cucumber thrives in the heat and humidity; so I’ll be growing lots of it!
What is your favorite recipe that highlights cucumber?
My mom always made homemade salad dressing. Her caesar dressing is absolutely delicious! She made it all the time when we were younger and when it was my job to make the caesar salad I added tons of dressing and tons of parmesan cheese with a little bit of lettuce. I’ve never been able to find a bottled dressing that tastes as good as homemade plus it is so much cheaper to make your own.
Ok, so on to the salad dressing for today. Guys, I really don’t think I’m exaggerating. This truly is the best salad dressing I’ve ever tasted. I discovered Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette (is that really how you spell that word??) during the summer at a wonderful blog called Our Best Bites which has tons of great recipes. But don’t head over their quite yet as I want to show you a little spin I put on the dressing: I added a bit of chipotle in adobo sauce and OH MY GRACIOUS. Y’all, this is the tastiest salad dressing I’ve ever had! Zesty is the best word to describe it. Full of flavor but not rich or heavy. Tangy. Refreshing. Drinkable. Also it’s great as a chicken or vegetable marinade, a sauce for enchiladas, mixed with some black beans and guacamole, really anything. I even somewhat randomly poured it over a salad of spinach, roasted butternut squash and parmesan cheese. I could literally drink this stuff!
Just look at how lovely and green it is!
I recommend making this as soon as you can because it will add a zesty kick to whatever you choose to put it on.
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
2 tablespoons cup white wine vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed
1 chipotle pepper-seeds removed + 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (add seeds or another half chipotle for more heat)