Summer Salad Series: A Simple, Satisfying Side Salad

The Summer Salad Series didn’t turn out to be the best-series-ever, I admit it. But today I had a very random salad that I threw together with what I happened to have in the house, and it turned out great! Sometimes the best things come from throwing together whatever ya got!

Being the eve of Labor Day Weekend, I figured this would be a perfect time to post one last salad of summer, and also offer a great option for a side salad for this weekend’s festivities!

eat something new

What you’ll need:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Mild Banana Peppers
  • Cucumbers – skin left on for extra crunch!
  • Reduced Fat (or Fat Free) Feta Crumbles
  • Italian dressing (I used Olive Garden’s I had left over from a salad I got to-go)

What you’ll do:

I think it is pretty self explanatory, but just for good measure: Wash and cut lettuce. Top with desired amount of the rest of the incredients, toss with dressing of your choice and enjoy! As always, this recipe is super easy to adapt to your tastes, preferences and allergies. I do recommend a lighter dressing because of the bold flavors from the feta and the banana pepeprs – you don’t want to cover them up! Light italian, light balsamic, or a little oil and vinegar would probably be best.

The verdict: It is so simple, but completely satisfying! I thought I would be left wanting more, so I packed a few light post-salad snacks, but I honestly don’t even need them! The little bit of fat from the cheese, the zing and heat from the banana peppers, the filling lettuce and super crunch from the cucumbers is a great combination. This is sure to make an appearance at least once a week!

Want to make it a meal? Throw in some grilled chicken, chick peas or tofu and you are good to go!

I also think that this salad would make a phenomenal side to go with burgers, chicken, barbeque or anyhting else, really.

How do you feel about banana peppers?
They are my latest obsession and I can’t get enough of them!

Do you have a salad you make for parties? Please share!

What’s your favorite must have ingredient for salad?

Have a Happy Labor Day!

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Introducing the Summer Salad Series: Crunchy Chicken Salad

Sorry for another super long hiatus! For those of you who were worried, fret not – I should be back to posting regularly now! I finished grad school, moved, and immediately started working from home and traveling on weekends. But now ESN is back near the top of the priority list! So here we go..

I wanted to start some kind of series to celebrate summer – and  you know how much I am a dork for alliteration – and how much I love salads – so here it goes: The Summer Salad Series! Once a week I’ll post a recipe for a great summer salad you can make at home – and I’ll throw some reviews of salads in there, too for good measure 🙂

This post will be about chicken salad, but first..

An introduction to the series:

Salad Dilemma #1: Just not the same at home.

I absolutely love salad chock full of yummy and healthy ingredients. This probably has something to do with my love for homogenous mixtures. BUT, for awhile there I thought I couldn’t make salad at home that I enjoyed as much as the entree salad that I ordered out. After several attempts, I started to figure it out.

Salad Dilemma #2: They aren’t that good for you.

Wait what?! Salad isn’t good for you?! Not when it is topped with several servings of corn, cheese, tortilla strips, fatty meat and dressing. Any ONE of these ingredients wouldn’t be a big deal – or a few in very small doses. However, when going out to eat, the salads are often among the worst choices you could make health, fat, and calorie wise (see: Eat This, Not That). Restaurants want to make sure that even though you’re picking salad, you’re left feeling satisfied – so they heap on these ingredients and the result is a meal often over 1,000 calories!

The solution: Mixing what I learned in my attempt to enjoy salads at home with the concept of quality [and portion] control being in my own hands, has led me to make many-a-delicious salads that are great crowd pleasers and perfect for the summer heat.

Tip: I learned that I don’t like my salads ice cold. Usually at a restaurant the salad doesn’t come out super cold, especially if you have added some type of cooked protein. This was the first thing I learned and it has made a HUGE difference  – I leave the ingredients out on the counter for a little while before preparing the salad.

Salad #1: Crunchy Chicken Salad

This isn’t your traditional salad since it doesn’t necessarily involve a bed of greens, but salad is in the name and it certainly could include a bed of greens, and I think it’s perfect for summer.

For me this is perfect for “Eat Something New” because I had canned chicken for the first time last summer while Nannying (wow, I miss those kids!) I’m pretty sure I blamed my mom for sheltering me  for all of these years, but since then I’ve run in to a LOT of people who have never had this chicken in a can (if you’ve never had it, think Tuna in a can – same concept – less fishy) – so if you haven’t keep reading!

What you’ll need: (Makes 3 servings – stays well in the refrigerator for a few days!)

  • 1 13 oz. can Member’s Mark chicken (I get mine from Sam’s club – awesome!)
  • 1 stalk of celery (this is the crunch!)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil Reduced Fat Mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 pinches dried Rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  1. Open and drain the can of chicken, placing remaining contents in to a bowl for mixing.
  2. Add mayo and mustard, mix well.
  3. Wipe down celery stalk with a damp paper towel, cut and throw away the ends. Chop up the rest of the stalk in to small pieces and add to chicken mixture.
  4. Add red wine vinegar and lemon juice, mix.
  5. Add Rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it! Super easy, right?

Substitutions:

Other than the chicken, of course, pretty much any of ingredient can be left out if you don’t care for it. This is a very customizable salad – like most salads are – so feel free to play around. Taste it while you’re making it and add more of certain ingredients if you prefer more. I will say, though, that if you’re skeptical of the celery – give it a try anyway. It adds a really fresh crunch that really makes the whole salad. If you try it and decide you’re not a fan, then at least you can say you tried it!

Serving Suggestions:

Try this on a bed of your favorite greens (my favorite is this over spring mix) or in a sandwich. Either way I would serve it with a thin slice or two of a ripe tomato. Today I made it here for my brother and I on Light Arnold brand whole wheat toast with a slice of tomato and a side of pear and nectarine slices.

What’s your favorite summer salad?

Have you ever had chicken from a can? Do you like it?

Any suggestions or requests for ingredients for me to work in to my salads?

To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite professors…

“Coming Attraction”: This weekend I’m making a pasta salad for a party and can’t wait to share it with you all next week!