Janet's Notebook
Simple Salad Recipes

Grilled Chicken Salad, Restaurant Style

It's always around this time of the year that I start incorporating more salad recipes into my menu. They're simple, filling and super tasty.

"This is an awesome, fabulous salad," exclaims Sher Bird (Bellevue, WA). "The ingredients might sound strange for a salad, but they work wonderfully together." She wasn't kidding when she said her Awesome Maple-Balsamic Blue Cheese Pear Salad was, well, awesome.

What I love most about it is the maple-balsamic dressing. There's a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup balanced out by the acidity from the white balsamic. Then you have some sweetness from pears and chewy dried cranberries, crunch from candied pecans and crumbles of creamy blue cheese. So many fabulous flavors!

Another lovely salad recipe is Tammi Preston's (Pilot Rock, OR) Spring Salad with Orange Dressing. "A delightful salad excellent for large gatherings," says Tammi. This is a great recipe if you're having a group to dinner or only preparing a lunch for two. It can be made to suit your needs.

And the textures in this recipe are amazing. Sugared almonds, pine nuts, dried fruits - your taste buds will be so happy. The orange dressing (a mixture of rice vinegar, orange juice, and other goodies) dresses the salad perfectly. With a variety of the greens and fruits will be a fresh addition to your table.

"I used to make this in two different steakhouse type restaurants I cooked in," explains Peggi Anne Tebben (Granary, TX). "I made this for myself and another worker one day when we weren't open. It was so well liked, we had people ordering it so I put it on the menu."

Peggi's Grilled Chicken Salad, Restaurant Style is definitely something you'd find at a restaurant but you can create it yourself at home (and be comfy in yoga pants). The combination of garlic and Montreal seasoning on the chicken is perfect. The key is to let the chicken sit for a few minutes for the juices to redistribute. Then, when you cut it you have the juiciest chicken for the top of your salad. Brushing in a bit of butter may help too...

"I ate this Caprese Spinach Pasta Salad for a late afternoon lunch and thought it was very good," shares Glenda Moore (Spring Hill, KS). "Later on, when my husband got home and was very hungry this is what I fed him until dinner was done and [even] he loved it."

Really what's not to love. Basil, fresh tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella, pasta and even black olives. You could add some grilled chicken to make this more of a dinner salad. Adding spinach and pasta is a creative way to reinvent a traditional recipe.

"This Tijuana Caesar Salad is a fun twist on a Caesar salad," says Kathy Basik (Ft. Meyers, FL). "I used the root vegetable jicama that has the texture of a potato and the sweet taste of a coconut." If you're not familiar with jicama, the texture is similar to a raw potato or yam. But, unlike a raw potato, when peeled it's sweet and crunchy.

The jicama and sliced red pepper add a nice crunch to the salad. You can really taste the lemon in this, so you may want to cut back just a bit if you'd prefer a more subtle tartness. Kathy's recipe is light, fresh and crispy... just the way a salad should be!

If you're looking for bold flavors in a salad, check out Amy Scotti's (Monroe, NJ) Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad. "I used to hate beets until I tasted fresh ones," jokes Amy. "This salad highlights the different textures of the ingredients, as well as the sweetness of the beets and the dressing. It can be as sweet or as tart as you like."

When you head to the farmer's market this weekend, I suggest adding beets to your grocery list. Roasting fresh beets is very simple (much better than from a can) and look like gems in this salad. The pecans add a touch of crunch while the goat cheese has a slight tang. The beets take on the flavor of the tasty orange-honey vinaigrette. It's delicious!

Probably what I love most about a salad are the endless combinations. Use different types of lettuce, add fruits, mix up the proteins and you create something new each time. Do you have a favorite addition to your salad? Happy Pinching!

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