Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hearty Chopped Winter Salad

So we're past January when the gym is taken over by everyone seeking to tackle their New Year's resolutions, but it's still winter, and most of us are still recovering from the long, gluttonous holiday that was really only a short 1-2 months ago now that we're in February.  Now that I'm suddenly looking forward to a Spring vacation (which means not only beach, but bathing suits!!) it's made me think about my eating habits now vs. in the warmer months -- and it's clear to me that a major difference in my daily menu is one thing: salads.

I simply just do not eat enough of the green stuff as a full meal in the winter.  Maybe because the Winter makes you want warm things like (typically super-salty) soups, or heartier meals (read: fatty/carby) to keep you warm, and you tend to hibernate at home more (less active), you stay warm.

Salads tend to be cold.  However, this past weekend, I continued to hibernate in my apartment but this left me to my own devices in order to whip up a nice, hearty, warm (enough) salad to help transform my less-helpful Winter eating habits and take a few cues from my lighter, healthier menu in the summer months.

Enter: Hearty Chopped Winter Salad.

Ingredients (this can totally be varied depending on what's in your cupboard/fridge!):
- Antibiotic-free chicken
- Organic greens, chopped
- walnuts
- dried cranberries
- chopped beets
- chopped red onion
- grilled cauliflower
- cubed apple
- garnish of freshly shaved parmesan cheese
- side of whole wheat cranberry walnut bread (optional -- my FAV from my local bakery :-)

I started with dark, organic greens (purchased a mix of swiss chard, kale and spinach) and added a mix of sweet & savory topped with warm seared cauliflower and protein-rich antibiotic-free chicken.

It really is as easy as just cooking, chopping and tossing it all together -- but I think a few small techniques helped to enhance the flavor a bit too:

1. Chicken: pounded thin, doused in olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper to taste.  This simple marinade and act of tenderizing the chicken a bit more really helps to make the protein just a tad tastier and really moist when cooked all the way through.

2. Cauliflower: I had about 1/4 of a head left.  I never think of grilling/sautéing this veggie until I realized I had some leftover to use.  After cutting as if it was a loaf of bread, just 1-inch slices, adding some EVOO, salt & pepper to taste, it really came out as a super yummy semi-crunchy addition after cooking it al dente.  I will DEFINITELY be adding cauliflower cooked this way to future dishes, it really transforms the veggie like you wouldn't believe, yum!!

As mentioned -- just chop, toss (with a little EVOO, salt & pepper as dressing) and enjoy!

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