Green Bean & Chicken Salad with Lemon & Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Some of my favorite meals in the summertime are salads. I love being able to experience all of the great produce available in the summer without a lot of fuss. Typically people assume any salad is "healthy" but often any benefits of eating fresh vegetables or fruit are negated by drenching salads in sugary, fatty dressings and adding things like croutons, processed cheese, or bacon bits. You can avoid that by making your own dressing (it's easier than you think), replacing not-so-healthy toppings with seeds or nuts, and sticking to grilled or roasted meat or seafood if adding protein. Things that draw me to a salad include colorful crisp veggies, hearty lettuce, a variety of textures, and a flavorful dressing. Green beans are freshest in the summer when they are in season. Quickly blanching the green beans in boiling water preserves the bright green color and crunchiness while preserving nutrients.

This salad was enough to fill me up for dinner but was still a light meal. It can be served cold, at room temperature or warm. To save some time, pick up a roasted free range chicken from your grocery store or grill a couple chicken breasts the day before with just a little olive oil, salt & pepper. The veggies, walnuts and dressing can all be prepped ahead of time.

Green Bean & Chicken Salad with Lemon & Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Ingredients (Salad):
Mixed organic greens
6 oz. roasted or grilled free-range chicken breast, sliced
1 c. green beans
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. raw walnuts
2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
2 tbsp Lemon & Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Servings: 1
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 0 min
Equipment Needed: Large pot, small pan

Ingredients (Lemon & Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette):
1 garlic head, roasted & cooled (about 8 - 10 cloves)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
3 or 4 large basil leaves
1 tsp dijon mustard
Sea salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

Servings: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 0 min
Equipment Needed: Food processor or blender.

To prepare dressing, combine roasted garlic cloves, lemon juice, basil leaves, mustard and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.

Slowly drizzle remaining olive oil into food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dressing should be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

Boil a large pot of salted water. Trim the ends off the green beans and blanch the beans in boiling water for 5 minutes or until crisp tender.

Drain green beans in a colander and rinse in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Ice cubes can be added to cool them down faster. Shake all excess water away after cooling and allow to dry while prepping remaining ingredients.

In a small ungreased pan on medium low heat, toast the walnuts for a few minutes or until golden brown.

Gather all prepped ingredients for the salad. To prepare an individual salad, toss the lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, onion and chicken in a couple tablespoons of vinaigrette.

Plate salad and top with goat cheese and walnuts.

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