Buffalo Chicken Salad

By Ira,

If you think salads are boring, you should try this one. It’s delicious and light. The chicken is seasoned with smoked paprika and chile powder, then tossed with blue cheese and all the other vegetables. And don’t feel guilty about adding too much dressing: it’s just yogurt, buttermilk, onion, and hot sauce. You will notice that you’re eating all the colors of the rainbow in the one salad.

Serves 4 – Adapted from Clean Eating magazine

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 medium breasts)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons coconut oil, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped into big chunks (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup low fat plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 5 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce (or buffalo)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, left whole or halved
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, julienned or shredded
  • 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • salt

Note: don’t substitute plain paprika for the smoked one. The smoked paprika gives it an amazingly deep flavor. If you can’t find red leaf lettuce, just substitute it with the romaine lettuce like I did. But by using the red leaf lettuce, you will have all the colors of the rainbow.

Place the chicken on a cutting board, cover it with cling wrap and pound the pieces so they become thinner (you can even cut the chicken in half so each chicken breast turns into 2). Sprinkle the pieces evenly on both sides with smoked paprika, chile powder, and salt.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon oil, then the chicken pieces, and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes depending on its thickness.

When done, set it aside on a clean cutting board for a few minutes before slicing it into strips. If your skillet is too small, then cook two chicken breasts at a time and keep the cooked ones warm under foil.

Meanwhile, in a blender, add the yogurt, buttermilk, onion, and 1 tablespoon hot sauce.

Blend until smooth. Taste to see if you’d like to add the additional 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce (I did because the buttermilk and the yogurt mellow the spiciness of the hot sauce).

Divide the lettuce between 4 plates, then top it with the bell pepper, tomatoes, carrots, and cheese.

Drizzle the dressing on the salad.

Top with the chicken, then drizzle more dressing on top if you wish.

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Pasta, Crispy Tofu and Green Bean Salad

by Jennifer

This pasta salad, from either Cooking Light or Eating Well (can’t remember!), is better at room temperature but can be eaten cold as well.  I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe;  it serves 4 – 6.

  • 14 oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed using either paper towels, plates and something heavy, or the EZ-Tofu Press;  slice pressed tofu into cubes
  • 1 TBS neutral oil
  • 1 lb short whole wheat pasta, such as farfalle or penne
  • about 3 1/2 cups cut green beans, in about 2” pieces (roughly 13 – 14 oz)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut into four pieces, each piece halved crosswise and sliced into thin pieces
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.

Five minutes before the pasta is ready to drain, add the green beans.  Drain when time is up and rinse pasta and green beans with cold water.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS neutral oil in a nonstick (this is key) skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Cook tofu until crispy and golden on all sides.  Transfer tofu to paper towels to drain and cool.

In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar through salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine pasta, green beans, tomatoes, yellow pepper, basil and dressing.  Serve at room temperature or cold.

Curried Salmon and Mixed Pea Salad

by Jennifer

This dinner is perfect for a hot summer evening, and is easy to put together.  The dressing is a variation of one found in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  The dressing, salmon and peas can all be prepared ahead.  Serves 4.

  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs salmon steaks
  • 1 1/2 lbs mixed snow peas and sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney, such as Major Grey’s
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 – 3 scallions, whites and light green parts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 7 cups romaine lettuce

Preheat broiler.  Lightly coat salmon steaks with cooking spray, season with salt and pepper,

and broil for 10 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Let cool until you are able to comfortably break the salmon into chunks.  Set aside.

Blanch peas in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes;  drain and rinse well with cold water.  Pat dry with a towel and place peas in a large bowl.

Whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, chutney, lime juice, scallions, curry powder and cayenne.  Refrigerate dressing for at least 15 minutes.

Toss half of the dressing with peas to coat, then add the salmon and toss gently, adding more dressing as desired.  Divide lettuce among 4 plates, then top with salmon and pea salad.

Broiled Salmon with Mint and Preserved Lemon; Strawberry Salad with Feta and Pistachios

by Jennifer

My older son had the idea of a strawberry dinner,

celebrating both the local strawberries now in season and Ira’s birthday.  After picking strawberries at a local farm, I came up with this menu:  Strawberry Bellinis with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Onion Phyllo Pouches; Broiled Salmon with Mint and Preserved Lemon, Strawberry Salad with Feta and Pistachios, and No-Knead Bread;  Chocolate – Strawberry Cake.

Broiled Salmon with Mint and Preserved Lemon – serves 4

  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup, packed, of fresh mint
  • 1 small preserved lemon, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt plus extra for sprinkling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 4 salmon fillets

In a small food processor (or by hand, if you wish), chop the garlic.  Add the preserved lemon and pulse a few times,

then add the mint and process again to finely chop.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in 2 TBS oil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.  Preheat broiler.

Brush salmon fillets with oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil a few inches from the heat for 10 minutes, or until just cooked through.  To serve, divide mint/lemon mixture on top of salmon fillets.

Strawberry Salad with Feta and Pistachios – serves 4

  • 1 1/2 lbs strawberries, sliced
  • 10 oz. package Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup, packed, of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted, unsalted pistachios
  • 3.5 oz. package crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 TBS sherry vinegar
  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  Toss together salad ingredients, then add dressing and toss gently to combine.

Grilled Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad with Avocado Pizza

by Jennifer

The salad recipe, adapted from Cooking Light (I think), is very good but spicy, so tone down or omit the chipotle chile in adobo sauce if you’re not a fan of spicy food.  The pizza recipe was passed on to me from my friend Andy.  This dinner serves 4.

Grilled Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad

  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 mangoes, cubed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 TBS chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 7 – 8 cups salad greens

Prepare grill.  Grill corn, onion slices and red pepper for 10 minutes, flipping onions and peppers over halfway through, and rotating the corn once or twice.  Remove from grill and let cool.  Meanwhile, combine mango through chipotle chile in a large bowl.  Chop onions and peppers;  holding each corn cob perpendicular to a cutting board or bowl, cut off the kernels, adding kernels, with onions and peppers, to the bowl.

Toss well.  To serve, divide salad greens among four plates and top with corn and bean mixture.

Avocado Pizza

To make garlic oil, combine a good amount of olive oil and a few chopped garlic cloves in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.  Keep what you don’t use in the fridge for another pizza, garlic bread, salad dressing, or pasta.  Feel free to cook your pizza on a pizza stone in a 450 – 500 degree oven (brush with garlic oil first, then cook crust), or use a pre-baked crust (brush with garlic oil before warming).

  • 11 oz. pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
  • garlic oil
  • 2 TBS chopped jalapeno
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 avocados, thinly sliced

Prepare grill.  Combine jalapeno through pepper in a medium-size bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.  Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to about 14” across.  Place dough on a cornmeal dusted paddle and slide dough onto grill.  Cook about 3 – 4 minutes, or until it’s puffed and there are grill marks on the bottom.  Slide crust back onto paddle, flip it over so the grill marks are on top, brush with garlic oil and slide back on the grill for another 2 – 3 minutes.

Add avocado to jalapeno mixture, toss gently,

then scatter mixture over pizza crust, slice and serve.

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella, Caesar Salad

by Jennifer

My husband is not crazy about eggplant (and yet, I still continue to cook with it, go figure), but he loved this dish.  You can make both the quinoa cakes and the ragu ahead of time (up to a day, covered and chilled).   Serves 4.

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella – adapted from Gourmet magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 egg
  • 5 – 6 TBS olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 1/4 lb. smoked mozzarella, diced

To make the quinoa cakes, bring the water and salt to a boil, add the quinoa, cover and lower heat to a simmer (medium-low);

cook quinoa for 20 – 25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool 5 – 10 minutes;

stir in the egg until well-combined.  Cover a baking sheet with plastic wrap and brush wrap with a little olive oil;  brush a 1 cup dry-ingredient measure with olive oil.

Using a spatula fill the cup 2/3 full, packing gently;

invert cake onto the plastic wrap and make three more cakes, brushing the cup with oil in between.

Gently pat down the cakes until they are 4″ in diameter.  Chill in the fridge at least 15 minutes (longer, cover loosely with plastic wrap).

While the quinoa is cooking and you’re making the cakes, toss the eggplant with 1 tsp salt in a colander set in the sink, and let it sit for 30 minutes.  Using your hands, squeeze out any liquid from the eggplant,

then pat it dry in a clean kitchen towel.

Heat 3 TBS oil in a large skillet over medium heat;  cook the eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, until the onion is begins to get tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and water, stir, cover, and lower heat to a simmer;  cook for 10 minutes.

You can cool the ragu at this point, and chill it, covered, up to a day, or you can set it aside until the cakes are cooked.

To cook the quinoa cakes, heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (I transfered the ragu to a medium-size pot and refrigerated it until it was dinner time);  transfer the cakes to the pan using a wide spatula coated with cooking spray.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes per side, adding 1 – 2 TBS oil as needed after flipping to the other side.

When the cakes are ready, add the parsley and half the mozzarella to the ragu, stirring just until the mozzarella begins to soften.  Plate the cakes, divide the ragu on top each cake, and top with the remaining mozzarella.

Caesar Salad

This recipe does not contain eggs, and is lower in fat than most.  I made this recipe at the end of Passover, hence no croutons, but it would be even more delicious with some good store-bought or home-made croutons.

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, washed and dried
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS fat-free plain yogurt
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk together (or process in a mini-processor) the garlic through pepper.

Toss with lettuce, then add in cheese and toss again.  If using croutons, toss them in last.

Romaine Salad with Anchovy Dressing and Parmesan

Romaine Salad with Anchovy Dressing and Parmesan – from Gourmet magazine

by Jennifer

Wash and dry the lettuce beforehand, and keep in the fridge until dinner time.  You can make the dressing up to a couple hours ahead as well, as well as shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Bring the dressing to room temperature, and toss the salad right before serving.  You can roll up the remaining anchovy fillets and freeze them for future salads or pastas.

Serves 6 – 8.

  •  5 flat anchovy fillets
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 hearts of romaine (18 – 22 oz. bag), torn into pieces
  • 6 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Finely chop the anchovies and garlic, or mince them with a mini-food processor.

Whisk in (or again, just add into the processor) the lemon juice, vinegar and pepper.  Whisk in olive oil.

Toss together the dressing, romaine, and cheese, just prior to serving.