PROSCIUTTO-CHICKEN-MELON SPINACH SALAD

When one of my lovely girlfriends visited me awhile back, I made this salad for lunch. It’s quite easy, and the combination of cantaloupe, avocado, prosciutto, and pine nuts is amazing. Gone, gone, gone!

6 cups baby spinach

1 lb grilled chicken tenderloins, sliced thin and chilled

4 cups diced cantaloupe

2 avocados, diced

4 oz prosciutto, chopped

1/4 cup diced red onion (optional)

2 oz pine nuts

Dressing suggestion: Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette (yes, I’m recommending it again)

1) Prepare each salad as follows: spread spinach on plate and top with chicken, cantaloupe, avocado, prosciutto, red onion, and pine nuts; serve with dressing of your choice

Now wasn’t that easy?

Servings: 4

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 07/05/12–the one that disappeared into a black hole (which is the reason WordPress and I met up).

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BERRY-BERRY-MANGO CHICKEN SALAD WITH APRICOT VINAIGRETTE

This salad started out as Mango Chicken Salad, but when I collected the mangoes from the fridge, the fresh strawberries and blueberries on the bottom shelf caught my eye and I envisioned a colorful (and tasty) salad. And that’s exactly what my guys sat down to this evening–and devoured. It was like dessert for dinner.  Junior Too’s Testimonial: “This salad is to me like Chinese Hot and Sour Soup is to bro.” Translation: Big Time Keeper.

Berry-Mango Chicken Salad

4 cups deli-roasted chicken, shredded

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cubed

3/4 cup fresh strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 red onion, quartered and sliced thin

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1/2 cup apricot preserves

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Thai Style Chili Sauce (optional, but gives a nice nip)

1/4 cup cashew halves

1) To large bowl add chicken, mango, strawberries, blueberries, red onion, celery, and romaine lettuce; toss well to combine and set aside

2) To small bowl add apricot preserves, olive oil, champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, and chili sauce; stir well and pour over salad; toss to combine

3) Divide salad between 4 large plates, scatter cashews over top, and serve

Servings: 4 hearty dinner-sized portions

ASIAN SESAME CHICKEN SALAD

One of Junior Too’s favorite salads is Panera Bread’s Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. Several years ago, I set out to duplicate it and this recipe resulted. Granted, Junior Too still puts his thumb a bit higher for Panera Bread’s version, but my version is a close second. Note: Senior and I like the addition of Craisins, whereas Junior prefers to stick with the original non-Craisin version.

Asian Chicken Sesame Salad

Asian Chicken Sesame Salad with Craisins

1 tbsp olive oil

2 chicken breasts, sliced into thin, bite-sized pieces

sea salt

ground black pepper

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sesame seeds (I used duo–white and black mix)

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 cup rice noodles

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup Craisins (optional)

1) 60 minutes before assembling salad, add olive oil to large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken pieces, lightly season with salt and pepper, and cook 2 minutes each side until lightly golden and cooked through; transfer chicken to paper-towel lined plate and chill in refrigerator

2) 45 minutes before assembling salad, prepare dressing: whisk vegetable oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds in small bowl and chill in refrigerator

3) Assemble salad, dividing ingredients between 4 plates in this order: romaine lettuce, chicken, rice noodles, sliced almonds, and Craisins (optional); serve with dressing

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions; 8 side-salad portions

SWEET AND SASSY CHICKEN SALAD

Another visit with an old friend–Sweet and Sassy Chicken Salad. In the past, I’ve made this recipe with deli-roasted chicken, but since I forgot to pick one up, canned chicken came to the rescue. And, really, it was just as tasty. Perfect for a cool summer dinner!

Sweet and Sassy Chicken Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

3 tbsp apricot jam

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp salt

3-1/2 cups deli-roasted chicken (or 3-10 oz cans chicken breast, drained)

1 large apple (I used Fuji), diced

1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup Craisins (or raisins)

1/3 cup chopped pecans

6 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1) To medium-sized bowl add: mayonnaise, sour cream, apricot jam, lime juice, honey, and salt; mix well and set aside

2) To large bowl add: chicken, apple, mango, grapes, celery, Craisins, and pecans; mix well; gently stir in mayonnaise-sour cream sauce until combined; set aside

3) Divide lettuce between 4 (or 6) plates; spoon chicken salad over lettuce and serve with or without dressing of your choice (Junior Too rarely passes up a chance to pour on Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette); Yum!

Servings: 4-6

BERRY AND CANDIED PECAN SALAD WITH CHICKEN

Senior, Junior Too, and I gobble up salads, especially if I toss a bit of chicken on top, but Junior can take them or leave them. Since Junior was away, salad was the order of the night. Junior’s loss, Junior Too’s gain. This salad boasts numerous taste sensations, but I believe the candied pecans and oil-less berry dressing are what stand out. Super delicious!

Berry & Candied Pecan Salad with Chicken

CANDIED PECANS:

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp water

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

CHICKEN:

1 tsp olive oil

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, sliced into 1/2″ thick pieces

1 tbsp brown sugar

BERRY DRESSING (Note: a great alternative is Ken’s Steak house Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette):

3/4 cup frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries), thawed

1/2 cup water

2 tsp granulated white sugar

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp minced fresh chives (optional)

pinch sea salt

pinch black pepper

SALAD:

2 cups fresh baby spinach

2 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1/4 cup finely sliced red onion

3/4 cup frozen mixed berries, thawed

1 apple, cored, peeled, and chopped (optional)

1) PECANS: In small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and water and cook until sugar dissolves; add chopped pecans and stir to coat; cook 5-7 minutes, stirring throughout (sugar should for a crust on pecans); remove from heat and spread pecans on a plate, set aside

2) CHICKEN: Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook on each side 3-5 minutes until golden and cooked through; sprinkle brown sugar over top, stir, and cook additional 2 minutes; remove from heat, spread chicken on plate, and refrigerate

3) BERRY DRESSING: Combine berries, water, and sugar in blender and blend at medium speed 30 seconds; add vinegar, chives, sea salt, and pepper and blend about 30 seconds; refrigerate

4) SALAD: Divide spinach and romaine between 4 plates; over top of each, scatter mushrooms, carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, onion, berries, apple, chicken, and candied pecans; serve with berry dressing

SERVES: 4 (or 3 hungry salad lovers)

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 04/18/12

AVOCADO-MANGO-CHICKEN “FLOWER” SALAD

Avocado, mangoes, and strawberries were on sale this week, and this tasty explosion of color is what happened once I got home and raided my refrigerator and pantry for other ingredients. What is it? It’s kind of a veggie salad…kind of a fruit salad…kind of a chicken salad. But there’s no “kind of” about how good it tastes or looks. Not that I was thinking “flower” when I started laying out the salad, but around and around I went and, when I reached the center, there was a hole that just happened to be the perfect size for the chicken that turned this into dinner for my guys. Thumbs up, up, up! Now I just need to find an equally delicious use for that wedge of watermelon that was also on sale. NOTE: For a get together, this would be gorgeous served on an enormous platter.

Avocado-Mango-Chicken Salad

PINEAPPLE-PARSLEY DRESSING

100% pineapple juice (drained off canned pineapple used in salad below–you should have close to 3/4 cup)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp minced parsley (those bits of green are so pretty!)

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

“FLOWER” SALAD

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb chicken breast tenderloins, cut into small 1/4″ thick pieces

salt and pepper, to taste

1-20 oz can pineapple slices in 100% pineapple juice, slices quartered and juice reserved for dressing above

1 head butter lettuce, cut or torn into fork-able pieces

2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and sliced thin

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced thin

10 medium-sized strawberries, sliced thin

1/2 cup roasted and salted macadamia nuts (forget trying to chop these round buggers–put them in a zip top plastic bag and gently pound with a meat tenderizer to break into smaller pieces)

1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese

1) For dressing: place all ingredients in small bowl and stir; refrigerate

2) For salad: To a skillet (or grill pan) add olive oil and heat to medium-high; add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; cook 2-3 minutes each side until cooked through; remove from heat, plate, and refrigerate

3) Add pineapple pieces to skillet and cook 1-2 minutes each side until lightly browned; remove from heat, plate, and refrigerate

4) Working from the outside of each plate inward and forming rings that decrease in size as pictured, arrange salad in this order: lettuce, mango, avocado, pineapple, strawberries; place chicken pieces in center and scatter macadamia nuts and feta cheese across the top

5) Stir dressing and drizzle over salads, then watch these beauties disappear

Servings: 4

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 04/27/12

CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN FAJITA SALAD

A family favorite is fajita salad–a sure-fire winner when we treat ourselves to eating out at a good Mexican restaurant. Now we can treat ourselves to fajita salad at home. The combination of chicken, red onion, red bell pepper, and black beans came together beautifully. Delicious!

Chicken and Black Bean Fajita Salad

Flour Tortillas

4 medium-sized flour tortillas

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large chicken breasts, sliced thin into bite-sized pieces

1 medium red onion, sliced thin

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup salsa

1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp minced parsley (or cilantro), divided

3 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

1 avocado, sliced thin into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup sour cream (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees; drape tortillas over oven racks as pictured and bake 12-15 minutes until crispy

2) Meanwhile, in large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat; add chicken to skillet and cook, stirring often, until chicken is lightly browned; add onion and red bell pepper and cook 5 minutes until veggies soften; stir in black beans, salsa, lime juice, chili powder, and 2 tbsp parsley (reserving 1 tbsp) and cook 5 minutes; remove from heat

3) Place tortilla shells in center of plates and divide fajita mixture between servings; top each with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, sour cream (optional), and reserved parsley; serve with extra salsa, if you like

Servings: 4