Salad with an Attitude

16 Aug

Most people seem to get into the habit of thinking of salad as an afterthought, some vaguely nutritious green filler to cover a bare patch of plate.  I hate that kind of salad.  You know, the three limp pieces of romaine or iceberg smeared with some sort of dressing and a few slivers of carrot that you find awkwardly arranged in a bowl before you can get to the real food.  Forget that stuff.  This is a meal in itself. It eliminates sugars and processed carbs, but remains brimming with flavor, color, and texture. And with no meal-break at my job, it’s got to tide me over until I get home for dinner.

This does. It’s quick and easy to prepare in my last half hour or so before work, with time to eat left over. It keeps me on my diet and doesn’t leave me low on energy halfway through the afternoon.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, chunked
a dash of red pepper flakes
1 handful of your favorite mixed baby greens
a pinch of sprouts (alfalfa, radish, or broccoli work well)
3-4 quail eggs, hardboiled (or 1 chicken egg)
3 cherry tomatoes
one quarter of an avocado
a couple of spoonfuls of cooked chickpeas
a dash of sunflower seeds

olive oil
vinegar (I use double-strength)
flavor of choice (Tabasco and/or garlic, personally)

Start your chicken cooking over medium-high heat while you chop the rest. Saute in a drizzle of oil (I like the way grapeseed oil holds up to the heat) and add the red pepper flakes if you prefer a little spice.

Toss the greens and sprouts in a bowl, chop everything else, dump it on top with your cooked meat, and voila, you’re done.  The ingredients list, naturally, is a suggestion more than anything.  I’ve swapped out chicken for chopped bacon, leftover steak, a salmon steak, and fried tofu at various points, all of which were delicious.  If I use red meat instead of chicken, I might substitute kidney beans for the chickpeas, and saute a few yellow or red bell peppers and onion with the meat as it cooks.  If I’m feeling like I need the extra energy boost, I might add a bit of my favorite cheese.  If I’ve laid hands on a can of olives recently, I might add a few of those sliced up on top, too.

For the dressing, combine oil and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. I add a liberal splash of Tabasco and shake–you could throw in some minced garlic, grated Parmesan, or your favorite herbal mix, if you like, instead.  Leftover dressing keeps perfectly well. If you stick it in the fridge, be aware that the olive oil will solidify and it’ll need a good shaking the next time you use it.

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