My Throwback Thursday post for this week goes back to one of my very first Livejournal posts. I’d been asked many times by busy “twenty somethings” for quick, healthy meals. Claiming they were spending too much money on take-out, and consuming more calories than they should, they were looking for an easy solution for the cooking challenged population. With years of juggling school, dance and tennis, I always had meals for the grab & go schedule. Whatever your circumstances, we all seem to lead hectic lives—the key is to be organized and do a little prep work. I buy a couple of my favorite lettuces; usually romaine, green leaf and red leaf. I cut, wash and spin them dry. My family pulls from that bag of lettuce all week. We make wraps and salads. I make sure I have a variety of cheeses, fresh veggies, croutons, grilled chicken and salad dressings. No one wants to eat the same thing every day. One day make an Asian inspired salad or wrap, the next day it can be Mexican or Italian. To buy that same salad at the deli would cost eight or nine dollars and would not be tailored to your exact tastes. Add what you like—shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms, and bean sprouts. All these ingredients are available pre-sliced if you need to save time. I also prefer to make my own salad dressings. They taste better, there are no preservatives and it is more cost effective. Pre-made salad dressings are usually high in sugar and sodium, have several additives and most are high in fat. Healthy means buy ingredients not products. I always have grilled chicken in my fridge. Not only is it a perfect addition for the salad and wraps, but also it’s great for making a Panini. I own a grill pan with a Panini press weight. I use it more often than any other pan. I like the stovetop Panini press feature better than the electric models, but both work well. Below are my signature salad dressing and my chicken marinade. Make plenty of the chicken—slice into salads, wraps, paninis, or eat it warm off the grill with a side of fresh vegetables.
Lemon Tarragon Chicken Marinade
1 pound thin sliced chicken cutlets
¼ cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup of honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
Combine all the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and marinate for several hours or overnight if possible. Grill the chicken on an outside or stovetop grill.
Don’t get too worried about measuring, I rarely do. Trust your tastes. If you don’t like garlic, omit it. If you love honey, add a little more.
Honey Lemon Basil Salad Dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ rice wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup fresh basil
Emulsify all ingredients in a small food processor or blender. I sometimes make this dressing by simply whisking the ingredients. Shred the basil if not emulsifying.
If you choose not to use honey, substitute a teaspoon of sugar.
You are ready to assemble a tasty salad. What would you put in yours?
Today, mine will have lettuce, tomato, dried cranberries, raw walnut pieces, crumbled goat cheese and sliced grilled chicken.