Summer Chopped, some are sliced

When it’s this hot outside (we’ve hit as high as 122 degrees recently), I tend to feel sluggish and miserable. I still get hungry, but definitely don’t want to cook anything heavy or complicated. I found an interesting recipe in the 400 Calorie Cookbook called the Summer Chopped Salad. I will admit that I was pretty skeptical about the flavors that would be put together, but it looked like a very easy recipe so I decided to give it a try anyway.

I cheated and used frozen pre-cooked tail-off shrimp that I already had, so I simply thawed them in one of my Pampered Chef Stainless Mesh Colanders and then warmed the shrimp for a minute or so in my absolute favorite non-stick cookware piece, the 8″ Saute Pan, with the olive oil, salt and pepper. I also used ready made cheese garlic croutons instead of making my own. A bit less healthy, but it saved the kitchen from all that oven and stove heat. I do normally like making my own croutons (when I don’t mind the extra carbs) because I can bake them with just a spritz of olive oil and whatever seasoning I want.

The actual salad part was ridiculously simple, especially since the Food Chopper chops any veggie as coarse or fine as you desire in a matter of seconds. For variety and presentation, I chose to shred the romaine into perfect little ribbons with the Pampered Chef Salad Chopper and slice the radishes with my Forged Paring Knife. I used the Stainless Mini Whisk to mix the dressing in an Easy Read Measuring Cup and threw the whole salad together in seriously less than 5 minutes. It needed a little something more, so after cracking some fresh pepper on the salad, I ended up slicing half of an avocado into little pieces and piling that on top.

Once everything was mixed together, it was delicious! The dressing sounded so weird to me since I’m not normally an onion lover, but the shallots really enhanced the shrimp and the dressing added just the right amount of kick with the smallest hint of honey sweetness. Fennel is such an intense flavor that I was really worried the licorice would take over the entire salad, but in the combination of it all (and chopped soooooooooooo finely), I didn’t even notice the fennel. Overall, it was a delicious salad and I was quite pleasantly surprised. The one thing I would suggest, however, is to avoid making this salad before any extreme exercise or plans to be in close proximity with someone. I hate to bring it up, but I burped onion all the way through my Zumba class tonight and was extremely worried everyone knew what I’d had for dinner. Just felt the need to warn you before you have to find out the hard way as well…

Summer Chopped Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Prep Time: 35 minutes/ Cook Time: 12 minutes/ Makes 4 servings

3 ounces French bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
4 radishes, chopped
3/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Let cool on the baking sheet.

2. Meanwhile, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, carrot, celery, cucumber, fennel, and radishes in a large bowl.

3. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Toss the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Set the shrimp on the grill pan and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, or until opaque. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

4. Combine the shallots, vinegar, honey, mustard, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon oil. Pour the dressing over the lettuce mixture, add the cooled bread cubes, and toss well. Divide the mixture among 4 plates and top with the shrimp.

Summer Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken (variation)

Substitute 3/4 pound sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast for the shrimp and follow the grilling procedure.

Per Serving (1 serving = 2 cups salad, about 10 shrimp, 1 1/2 tablespoons dressing)/ Variation (1 serving = 2 cups salad, 2 ounces chicken, 1 1/2 tablespoons dressing)
Calories 310, Total Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 2g, Sodium 570mg/480mg, Carbohydrate 28g/27g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Protein 22g, Calcium 10%/6%

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