A cool, crisp salad is the meal ticket when the weather is sizzling and the thought of cooking a hearty hot meal is as appealing as zipping up in a tent full of mosquitoes. But when the “lazy days of summer” isn’t just a saying and even the thought of washing lettuce for a salad sounds like a lot of work, in comes the handy bag o’ greens.
I even have one of those salad spinner deals and can make a fun game of it by “letting” my four-year-old son push the top and make it spin, which he thinks is great fun. However not to deprive the child of joy, but those bags of prepackaged greens certainly make it more enticing to whip up a salad. Salads can also be far from boring and serve as a complete one-dish meal when you add some meat and nuts and other flavorful elements—and perhaps rally to cook just a little in the way of boiling water for some orzo.
This recipe that appeared in Real Food magazine has Italian-inspired flavors along with the lean protein of chicken, which can be grilled outside, or you could even pick up rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for extra “lazy days.” (It’s by Jennifer Chandler, adapted from her Simply Salads cookbook.)
Chicken Florentine Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as main course
Vinaigrette (makes about 1/3 cup):
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ small garlic clove, mashed to a paste or minced
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, grilled, cooled, and thinly sliced against the grain
½ c. pine nuts, toasted
¼ c. sliced black olives (canned)
3 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
1 bag (6 oz.) baby spinach
1 c. cooked orzo, drained, rinsed, and cooled to room temperature
To make vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, and garlic. Slowly add oil in a steady stream, whisking to emulsify. Stir in cheese. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
To make salad: In a large salad bowl, toss together sliced chicken, pine nuts, black olives, capers, baby spinach, and orzo. Add vinaigrette to taste and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Nutrition info (per serving) Chicken Florentine Salad: CALORIES 469 (278 from fat); FAT 31g (sat. 4g); CHOL 74mg; SODIUM 454mg; CAR B 16g; FI BER 3g; PROTEIN 33g