Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meaty Summer Salads

7/13/11 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

It's summertime and the cooking is easy! Outdoor grilling means that we eat lighter fare that is easy to prepare and good for us at the same time. And at least a couple of times a week I plan some kind of main dish salad that fills us up but not out!
Taco salad is a favorite of almost everyone in our family. And it can be easily made using leftover (or even canned) chili. Sometimes I make taco shells to house the salad and sometimes not. Often, I put together a plate of salad greens, and top it with a simple ground meat and chili bean mixture. Then I let everyone choose his or her choice of garnishes: cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado or salsa. Corn chips are the final touch.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a great meat to have on hand for quick meals. And grilled chicken goes well with most kinds of salads. It’s great for topping off a Caesar, Asian Chicken or Cobb salad. It takes a little planning but marinating it for several hours in your choice of dressing really makes a flavorful difference. It can then be cooked on the grill or even roasted in the oven.

Chinese Chicken Salad is another favorite of mine. Finding the right balance of ingredients for dressing the ingredients is my biggest challenge. There are many sweet and tangy recipes to choose from but I still haven’t found one to my liking so sometimes I cheat and use a bottled poppy seed dressing.

Seafood salads are also very tasty. They’re a little spendy but if you watch the sales, you can pick up bags of nice frozen shrimp for a reasonable price. They are especially pretty threaded on a skewer, grilled and placed atop your greens. The recipe below calls for a bottled dressing and swordfish along with shrimp but you can substitute any grilled firm white fish.

Try one or try all of these this week and enjoy!


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing
8 cups torn romaine lettuce
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing
1 cup garlic croutons

In large bag, combine chicken and 1/4 cup salad dressing. Seal bag, turn to coat, and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

Combine lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and cheese in large bowl and refrigerate

When ready to eat, remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade, and grill chicken 4-6 minutes until thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken from grill and slice crosswise.

Place on top of salad mixture. Top with croutons and drizzle with 1/2 cup salad dressing. Serve immediately. 4 servings


1/4 cup soy sauce (low-sodium), divided
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly shredded (about 6 cups)
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 1/2 cup)
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts
1 can Chinese fried noodles
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Prepare dressing in advance:
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger

Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and brush onto chicken breasts. Grill or arrange in a baking dish and bake until juices run clear, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4-inch slices.

In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, scallions, water chestnuts, Mandarin orange and sliced chicken.

Dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, brown sugar and chili sauce. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.

Divide among bowls and top each serving with 2 teaspoons toasted almonds


4 cups leftover chili or canned chili (season with cumin)
Pre-made tostada or taco salad shells OR 4 cups corn chips
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
4 cups torn green lettuce

2 cups shredded Cheddar or Cojack cheese
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
Fresh chopped cilantro
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa

In medium saucepan, heat leftover or canned chili until bubbling. Heat tostada shells as directed on package. Pile lettuce in each heated shell and top with hot chili. Top with remaining ingredients as desired. Serves 4

Grilled Seafood Salad

12 raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. swordfish steaks
1 bulb fennel, cut into wedges
10 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup honey Dijon mustard vinaigrette (divided)
1 cup garlic croutons

Place shrimp and swordfish in a heavy duty plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette (which then becomes a marinade), and mix to coat. Seal bag, place in glass dish and in refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.

Prepare and heat grill. Remove shrimp and fish from marinade, reserving marinade. Place swordfish and fennel on grill 5-6" from coals. Cover and grill for 5 minutes. Brush with marinade. Add shrimp to grill. Cover and grill 5 minutes longer, turning and brushing fish, shrimp and fennel with marinade 2-3 times, until shrimp are pink and fish flakes easily with fork. Discard any remaining marinade.

Arrange salad greens on platter. Cut fish into bite sized pieces. Top greens with fish, shrimp, fennel, red onion, and tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Serves 6

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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