ENTREE SALAD WITH CHICKEN

ENTREE SALAD WITH CHICKEN

Supersize your side salad to an entrée portion. Juicy blackened chicken over a crisp bed of greens and creamy avocado make for an excellent lunch or dinner. The healthy omega-3 fats will keep your hunger at bay for hours. And the fiber and protein will help keep your blood sugar levels away from those dreaded spikes. A well-made salad can satisfy even the hungriest of lumberjacks.

 

HEALING BENEFITS

Chicken has high levels of vitamin B along with being a high source of protein, the building block of muscles. Only buy chicken (and all other poultry) that is raised without antibiotics to get truly healthy meat. Read the ingredients on the sausages. Food manufacturers can hide some horrible ingredients in tube meat. If you cannot pronounce it or recognize the ingredient, it’s best to not eat it. Honorable mention goes to Applegate Organics meats for producing real food available widely in the US. It’s not cheap, but real food raised properly seldom is.

 

Bell peppers deliver on flavor, vitamin C and digestive fiber. This nightshade vegetable also has beneficial antioxidants for good heart and eye health. All bell peppers are heavily fertilized which is why they are on the Dirty Dozen list, so only buy organic. Here it is worth the extra money to reduce your intake to potential toxins.

 

Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable. And it has the highest fat content of any fruit on the planet. However, the avocado’s fat is quite healthy and is packed with healing omega-3’s which are good for relieving arthritis and lubricating joints. It is also rich in antioxidants and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Don’t let the false “conventional wisdom” of the low-fat movement make you miss one of the most versatile and creamy fruits out there. Avocado is on the Clean Fifteen list, so it is okay to buy this conventionally grown to save some money.

 

PUTTING IT ALTOGETHER

Follow the instructions below to make this savory salad. Look for fresh carrots and lettuce greens in the refrigerated section at Trader Joe’s. They offer pre-washed lettuce greens and julienned carrots, which are a great time-saver. Substitute jarred roasted red peppers for the fresh pepper, if you so choose. Trader Joe’s does sell a pre-made red wine vinaigrette or you can take the extra time to make a cheaper version at home. The taco seasoning from Trader Joe’s also works as a blackened seasoning. It’s cheap, free of poor quality ingredients and the spice blend is already made. To lower the fat and calories of this dish, feel free to substitute boneless chicken breast (raised without the use of antibiotics).

It’s good practice to pull out all the pots and pans you need before cooking. Likewise, pulling out the ingredients you need to measure or chop beforehand will simplify your cooking. The French call this practice mise en place which translates to “putting in place”. It is practiced in restaurants and taught to chefs in culinary school.

ENTREE SALAD WITH CHICKEN ingredientsOptional: Use a meat hammer/tenderizer to pound the thighs to about half of their thickness. Work the thicker sections to make the thickness even across each piece of meat. This technique does two things. First, it makes the chicken cook more even with a uniform cross-section. Second, it allows the meat to cook faster because it is thinner. Carefully use a coffee mug or rolling-pin if you do not have a meat hammer. Take caution to not break them in your meat.

Dry the chicken with a paper towel and discard the paper towel. Sprinkle each side of the thighs with the taco seasoning mixture. There’s no need to add salt since the spice mixture and salad dressing both already contain salt. Use a pair of tongs to handle the chicken.

Caution: Be mindful when working with raw poultry. It can easily spread germs, including salmonella, which can be fatal. I prefer to pull out the cutting board, tongs and trash can before I even open the package of poultry. Once I open it, I place the packaging in the trash without touching any other surfaces. Likewise, when I handle the raw meat, I will not touch any other surfaces until I have washed my hands. Place the cutting board in a dishwasher to neutralize any germs with hot water and soap. Always wash your hands after handling raw poultry.

Bring a large skillet up to medium heat on your stove-top. Add 1 tbsp butter or ghee to melt. Once melted add the chicken thighs, working in two batches. Cook for about 5-7 minutes per side. Set a timer and resist the urge to move the chicken around. It needs time to cook throughout. Place a clean paper towel on a plate. Remove the chicken, once cooked, to the plate to allow to cool. Cut a piece of chicken at the thickest section to check if the pink color has been fully cooked out. If it is still pink, return it to the pan for a few minutes. Let the hot meat cool before cutting it. Hot meat shreds while cooler meat cuts evenly.

Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs

While the chicken thighs are browning in the pan, you can prep the vegetables for the salad. If you bought whole heads of lettuce, chop the greens into ~1″ strips on a clean cutting board. Do not reuse the cutting board used earlier for the chicken without cleaning it. Soak the greens in a salad spinner with filtered, cold water to remove any dirt. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before spinning the greens dry. If you bought bagged greens, they come pre-washed, so there’s no need for a second rinse. Place the lettuce greens evenly into 3 or 4 bowls or containers for your salads. We prefer to use these large Pyrex bowls since they travel well and stack easily in the refrigerator.

Optional: The red pepper in this recipe can be included raw or roasted. If you have a gas stove-top, you can roast the pepper over medium-low heat, turning every few minutes. The pepper can be roasted in the oven if you have an electric range (500°F for 30 minutes). Remove from the heat and place in a covered bowl for ~15 minutes to cool down and allow the skin to separate from the pepper. Use your fingers to remove the charred skin before slicing it into strips.

Roasted Red Pepper

Cut the top of the pepper off and discard the seeds. Slice into strips, then into even cubes. Place the red pepper evenly over your 3 or 4 salads. Then top with the julienned carrots and pumpkin seeds. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice into bite-sized pieces and place on the salad. Avocados brown quickly, so I wait to open and slice the avocado until just before eating the salad. Leave the avocado seed in the half to store for later use. That seed in the fruit will keep it from browning. Wait to dress the salad until moments before eating it. The vinegar in the dressing will cause the veggies to wilt and get mushy if allowed to sit for longer than an hour. Store your pre-made salads in the refrigerator and avoid the freezer at all costs.

Serving Size: To portion this recipe out, simply divide the ingredients between 3 or 4 containers. The 1/4 portion is for the 1,500 calorie plan and the 1/3 portion is for the 2,000 calorie plan. So long as the ingredients were measured before your started, a rough estimate is sufficient for portioning out this meal.

 

ENTREE SALAD WITH CHICKEN
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Supersize your side salad to an entrée portion. Juicy blackened chicken over a crisp bed of greens and creamy avocado make for an excellent lunch or dinner. The healthy omega-3 fats will keep your hunger at bay for hours. And the fiber and protein will help keep your blood sugar levels away from those dreaded spikes. A well-made salad can satisfy even the hungriest of lumberjacks.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • Salad Greens, Fresh or Bagged, 2X Heads or 2X Bags (16 oz)
  • Chicken Thighs, NO ANTIBIOTICS, Boneless, Skinless, 1.5 lb
  • Taco Seasoning, 2 tsp
  • Butter or Ghee, 2 tbsp
  • Pumpkin Seeds, ½ cup
  • Carrots, Julienned, 8 oz
  • Red Pepper, ORGANIC, Diced 1X
  • Avocado, Sliced, 2X
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette, 8 tbsp
Instructions
  1. Optional: Use a meat hammer/tenderizer to pound the thighs to about half of their thickness.
  2. Dry the chicken with a paper towel and discard the paper towel. Sprinkle each side of the thighs with the taco spice mixture.
  3. Bring a large skillet up to medium heat on your stove-top. Add 1 tbsp butter or ghee to melt. Cook for about 5-7 minutes per side.
  4. Place a clean paper towel on a plate. Remove the chicken, once cooked, to the plate to allow to cool. Cut a piece of chicken at the thickest section to check if the pink color has been fully cooked out. If it is still pink, return it to the pan for a few minutes.
  5. If you bought whole heads of lettuce, chop the greens into ~1″ strips on a clean cutting board. Soak the greens in a salad spinner with filtered, cold water to remove any dirt. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before spinning the greens dry.
  6. Place the lettuce greens evenly into 3 or 4 bowls or containers for your salads.
  7. Cut the top of the pepper off and discard the seeds. Slice into strips, then into even cubes. Place the red pepper evenly over your 3 or 4 salads. Then top with the julienned carrots and pumpkin seeds. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice into bite-sized pieces and place on the salad.
  8. Avocados brown quickly, so I wait to open and slice the avocado until just before eating the salad. Leave the avocado seed in the half to store for later use. That seed in the fruit will keep it from browning. Wait to dress the salad until moments before eating it. The vinegar in the dressing will cause the veggies to wilt and get mushy if allowed to sit for longer than an hour. Store your pre-made salads in the refrigerator and avoid the freezer at all costs.

 

SHARING IS CARING

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Photos by Fotolia and Sharunas Jurevic and liz west.

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