These salads are nuts!
Since I’ve been trying to lose weight all summer, I’m watching what I eat (well, most of the time, anyway). Naturally, eating better requires getting a sufficient amount of ruffage and colorful fruits and veggies. I hate to admit it, but I’ve gotten kind of tired of having boring salads all the time. The best way to combat the sick-of-the-same-sorry-salad blues is to do something interesting! Make a homemade brittle, whisk dressings from scratch, combine unique flavors, turn one into dessert… the possibilities are endless! My most recent favorites both use a carmelized nut to add crunch and sweeten up the already flavorful salads. I found the Chicken, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad in an old Season’s Best cookbook, and the Berry & Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing is in our great cookbook Spin On Salads.
To prepare the Berry & Kiwi Salad, I started with leftover mixed greens and iceberg lettuce from the fridge (I hate to waste food, so I always opt to use what I have over following a recipe exactly). I washed the lettuce in the Salad & Berry Spinner, and then the berries in the smaller stain-resistant bowl of the Spinner. After tearing the lettuce (I don’t like big pieces), I hulled the strawberries with my Core and More and peeled the kiwi with the Serrated Peeler. I quartered the strawberries and sliced the Kiwi using my Color-Coated Utility Knife, and then topped the lettuce with a tossed mixture that also included blueberries and blackberries.
The dressing was so simple with a reduction of white balsamic vinegar and sugar, and a little cream added during the last few minutes of cooking to thicken and smooth out the dressing. I kept it covered in the fridge until right before I was ready to serve so that it had time to cool. Lastly, I chopped almonds with my Food Chopper and then browned them in the (8 in.) Saute Pan with a little corn syrup and sugar. When they are quickly transferred to Parchment Paper to cool, the nut mixture turns into a really great brittle-like form that can be broken into flat pieces as a side garnish. It was a bit chewy, but I’m sure the sliced almonds that the recipe called for would give the Almond Cluster more firmness than my chopped mess did. Altogether, the salad was fabulous, and much more like a dessert than a meal starter. I could very easily eat this many times throughout the summer while berries are fresh and sweet, and there is virtually no cooking to heat up the kitchen. Best of all, even with sugar in the dressing, each serving of the salad is only 120 calories! It’s almost too perfect!
If sweet salads aren’t ideal for you, the Chicken, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad has just the right balance of sweet, tart, and savory to satisfy every taste bud (except spicy, because this is the one time it would be crazy, haha!). Believe it or not, I’ve followed this recipe exactly every time I’ve made the salad because it’s absolutely delicious just the way it is. I’ve always loved nuts, but caramelizing the cashews really takes them to a whole different level, and are so tasty that I have to keep from snacking too much before putting everything together. FYI, the salad isn’t as good when there are only two nuts left to put in it. Great for lunch or dinner, and although equally as delicious without it, the grilled chicken adds enough substance to make the salad a complete meal. Even my cats agree, so don’t leave the kitchen unattended if you have pets (I learned that the hard way the first time I made the salad and had to replace my missing chicken)!. Whether you want a sweet, beautiful berry salad or a filling, mouth-watering grapefruit salad, I’m certain you’ll love your meal. And whichever salad you choose, don’t forget to go a little nutty!
Chicken, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp Citrus & Basil Rub
1 tsp olive oil
Dressing and Salad
1 large ruby red grapefruit
1 tbsp orange marmalade
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 firm, ripe avocado
1 bag (6 oz) fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup sliced red onion (optional)
Sweet Caramel Cashews (optional, see below recipe)
1. For chicken, combine ingredients in Classic Batter Bowl. Heat Grill Pan over medium heat 5 minutes. Cook chicken 4 minutes or until grill marks appear. Turn chicken over; grill 4-6 minutes or until Pocket Thermometer registers 170F. Remove chicken to Cutting Board; let stand 10 minutes.
2. For dressing, zest grapefruit with Microplane Adjustable Grater to measure 1 tsp zest. Cut grapefruit in half; remove sections to Prep Bowl using Grapefruit Knife. Juice grapefruit halves using Juicer to measure 1/4 cup juice. Combine zest, juice, marmalade, oil, salt and black pepper in Small Batter Bowl; mix well using Stainless Mini Whisk.
3. For salad, slice radishes using Ultimate Mandoline fitted with thin slicing blade. Peel and dice avocado using Avocado Peeler. Slice chicken crosswise into thin strips using Utility Knife. Place spinach into Simple Additions Round Serving Bowl. Top with sliced chicken, grapefruit, radishes, avocado and onion, if desired. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently. Garnish with Sweet Caramel Cashews, if desired. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 360, Total Fat 20g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 65mg, Carbohydrate 17g, Protein 29g, Sodium 490mg, Fiber 4g
Sweet Caramel Cashews
2 tbsp Sweet Caramel Sprinkle
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cashews
Additional Sweet Caramel Sprinkle
1. Combine 2 tbsp caramel sprinkle, butter, corn syrup and salt in (8-in.) Saute Pan. Stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Add cashews and cook, stirring constantly, 5-7 minutes or until cashews are evenly browned and syrup turns a caramel color. Spread cashews in a single layer on Parchment Paper; sprinkle with additional caramel sprinkle. Cool completely.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 270, Total Fat 20g, Saturated Fat 5g, Cholesterol 10mg, Carbohydrate 20g, Protein 5g, Sodium 115mg, Fiber 1g