Thursday, August 17, 2017

Broccolini Chicken Pear Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Who says greens have to be leafy to make a great salad? Lightly cooked broccolini adds great flavor and bite to this wonderful recipe for broccolini chicken pear blue cheese salad.

Food Lust People Love: Who says greens have to be leafy to make a great salad? Lightly cooked broccolini adds great flavor and bite to this wonderful recipe for broccolini chicken pear blue cheese salad.

Growing up, I was never a fan of pears because of their texture. I found them a bit gritty, for want of a better word. Recently I discovered that they aren’t all that way and I have been converted. In Dubai, we have produce imported from all over the world so, as long as you are willing to pay the price, choice fresh fruit is available year round. I try to buy what’s in season closest to me with occasional special treats of produce from farther afield.

The pears that convinced me were Coscia pears, an Italian variety. I first like them baked into an almond pear bread pudding but then decided they were pretty good raw as well. When I looked them up, the interwebs told me that they were granular in texture, but I didn’t find that true at all. Maybe mine were special but I’ve bought them a few times since and, while they aren’t as smooth as apples, they aren’t as gritty as the pears I recall from when I was little.

Another recipe for Salad Month
Like the crunchy green bean, tomato, chicken and pearl couscous salad I posted earlier this month, this salad can also be served without the chicken. But when I am serving it as a main course, I think the additional protein helps make it a more filling meal. As another bonus, it can also be made ahead of time, which makes it perfect for a packed lunch at school or at work. Or for serving dinner guests.


Broccolini, Chicken, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Vinaigrette


Pears and blue cheese are a classic combination of sweet and salty, especially if you have crisp pears that are just ripe and fragrant with pear-y-ness. Together they lift the broccolini and chicken into something fabulous. And whether the salad is served slightly chilled or at room temperature right after you make it, the warm honey mustard vinaigrette is the perfect dressing.

Ingredients – to serve 2 as a meal, 4 as a starter
For the salad:
2 small boneless chicken breasts
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
7 oz or 200g broccolini aka tenderstem broccoli
1/4 small onion, sliced thinly
1 pear, ripe but firm
3 oz or 57g soft blue cheese (I like Bleu d'Auvergne for this recipe – it’s made with cow’s milk and is milder than Roquefort.)

For the warm honey mustard vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method
Season the chicken breasts with the salt and two peppers. Pan-fry them in the olive oil until golden on both sides and cooked through. Depending on the thickness of your breasts, this could take as few as five minutes and as many as 10. Do not overcook them or, as we all know, chicken breasts dry out. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil and fill a bowl with cold water and some ice cubes.

When the water comes to a boil, pu the broccolini in careful so you don’t scald yourself with a splash of boiling water. Set a timer for two minutes.

When the timer rings, scoop the broccolini out with a slotted spoon and pop it directly into the ice water. This ensures that it stays brightly green. Once chilled, remove the broccolini, drain and leave it to dry.



Cut the chicken breasts into 8-9 slices each. Divide the broccolini between two plates and add a sliced chicken breast to each. Add the sliced onion.


Core and thinly slice the pear on top of the broccolini. Crumble the blue cheese on top of both.

At this point, the plates can be chilled, covered with cling film, until you are ready to serve. Remove the plates from the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before serving to allow time for the salad to warm up a little.


To make the warm vinaigrette, whisk all of the ingredients - except the oil - together in a small pot or microwaveable bowl, then warm the mixture gently over a low fire or with a couple of quick zaps of the microwave. Whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time, until the vinaigrette has emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Spoon the warm honey mustard vinaigrette over the salad.

Food Lust People Love: Who says greens have to be leafy to make a great salad? Lightly cooked broccolini adds great flavor and bite to this wonderful recipe for broccolini chicken pear blue cheese salad.


Enjoy!

Food Lust People Love: Who says greens have to be leafy to make a great salad? Lightly cooked broccolini adds great flavor and bite to this wonderful recipe for broccolini chicken pear blue cheese salad.

Pin it! 

Food Lust People Love: Who says greens have to be leafy to make a great salad? Lightly cooked broccolini adds great flavor and bite to this wonderful recipe for broccolini chicken pear blue cheese salad.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Curried Shrimp Salad

Serve this spicy curried shrimp salad with crackers, in a bread bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves for a deliciously spicy appetizer or cool dinner.

Food Lust People Love: Curried shrimp salad is special enough for a party but easy enough to serve the family for a simple summer dinner as well.  Serve it with crackers, in a bread bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves for a deliciously spicy appetizer or cool dinner.

Despite the fact that I am in cool Los Angeles, it’s still August so that means we are midway through my self-imposed Salad Month. I hope those of you in warmer climes are enjoying the recipes and the rest of you are pinning them for later. I head back to Dubai on Wednesday, where it’s still scorching hot, so I anticipate that salads for dinner will no doubt be favorites for some weeks to come.

I hope you've also enjoyed following along on Instagram as I journeyed by car from the east coast to the west coast of the United States with my daughters. We took in some fabulous sights, from Niagara Falls and the St. Louis Arch to the natural arches near Moab, UT and the Grand Canyon and so much more.

A couple of months back, it was my honor to be invited to a wedding shower in Dubai, given by a good friend. Naturally, I asked what I could bring. She gave me free rein so this is one of the dishes I made. Curried shrimp salad is special enough for a party but easy enough to serve the family for simple summer dinner as well.

Ingredients
1 lb or 450g cleaned and shelled shrimp
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced, salted, drained
1 cup or 215g mayonnaise
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
hot sauce, optional
2 spring onions, white and part of green for salad – some greens chopped for garnish

To serve: crackers, toasted bread or split bread rolls to make sandwiches or lettuce leaves for wraps

Method
Cook the shrimp by dropping them into boiling water for just a few minutes. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Leave in a colander to drain.

Chop the roots off of your spring onions and discard. Cut the whites into thin circles, along with most of the green parts. Chop the rest of the green parts and set aside for garnish.


Cut your cucumber into quarters lengthwise then use a sharp knife to remove the seedy core. Discard or feed to your furry helper. (My Boxer loves them!) Cut the cucumber into very thin slices and lay them on a folded paper towels to absorb the excess moisture.


In a small bowl, combine the curry powder, ground cumin and the larger pile of chopped green onions with the mayonnaise.


If you are serving this curried shrimp salad as an appetizer at a party, set aside one whole shrimp for garnish then chop the remaining shrimp. First of all, it looks pretty but I also like to give folks a heads up that a dish contains something that is a known potential allergen by showing it on top.



Taste the mayo dressing. Some store-bought curry powders contain more pepper than others. If you like things spicier, add some hot sauce to taste and stir well.


In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped shrimp with the curried mayo and the cucumber until thoroughly mixed.


Serve the curried shrimp salad with crackers as an appetizer, small lettuce leaves for rolls, or use it to make sandwiches with fresh sliced bread or rolls.

Food Lust People Love: Curried shrimp salad is special enough for a party but easy enough to serve the family for a simple summer dinner as well.  Serve it with crackers, in a bread bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves for a deliciously spicy appetizer or cool dinner.

Enjoy!

Food Lust People Love: Curried shrimp salad is special enough for a party but easy enough to serve the family for a simple summer dinner as well.  Serve it with crackers, in a bread bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves for a deliciously spicy appetizer or cool dinner.

Here are a few more salads you are sure to enjoy! 

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Food Lust People Love: Curried shrimp salad is special enough for a party but easy enough to serve the family for a simple summer dinner as well.  Serve it with crackers, in a bread bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves for a deliciously spicy appetizer or cool dinner.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Crunchy Green Bean, Tomato, Chicken and Pearl Couscous Salad

Just cooked crunchy green beans and ripe sweet cherry tomatoes perk up this lovely salad made with pearl couscous, augmented with chicken, and dressed with raspberry vinegar and whole grain mustard.


Once again, I’m sharing a recipe perfect for my self-imposed Salad Month. This Crunchy Green Bean, Tomato, Chicken and Pearl Couscous Salad is another of our favorites when it’s hot outside. It’s light yet, because of the pearl couscous and chicken, it’s filling enough to be a meal on its own. Or, if you want, omit the chicken from the salad and serve it as a side dish.

If you are not familiar with pearl couscous, also known as mograbia, it’s made from a moistened bulgur wheat paste which is rolled into small balls. The balls are coated with finely ground hard white wheat flour and dried. Those who still make pearl couscous in the traditional manner hand roll the balls and dry them in the sun. I bought mine in a bag at my local grocery store.

My younger daughter (and the Boxer boy) will eat green beans completely raw. I prefer mine blanched for salads but you do you. If you like them uncooked, skip the first step of this recipe. Either way, this is another instance where the ingredients are simple, but the finished dish is more than the sum of its parts. The bonus is that, if you make enough to last until the next day, this salad tastes just as good, possibly even better.

Crunchy Green Bean, Tomato, Chicken and Pearl Couscous Salad


Ingredients – serves 2 for a main meal
For the salad:
7 oz or 200g fine green beans, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 cup pearl couscous
1 small onion, sliced
Green onion tops, chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper
7 oz or 200g cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
Leftover roast or rotisserie chicken – two breasts or an equivalent amount deboned and cut in bite-sized pieces

For the dressing:
1/8 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Pinch sea salt
A few grinds of fresh black pepper

Method
Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the green beans for 2 1/2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh them in some ice water so they stop cooking. Drain well.

Cook the couscous as you would pasta in salted water, boiling till the little balls are al dente, that is, soft but still with a little firmness. (Follow your package instructions for the best results.) Drain and rinse and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Toss the warm pearl couscous in a large salad bowl with the sliced onion and chopped green onion tops. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.


Shake the dressing ingredients together in a clean jar until well combined and pour over the couscous. Stir well.

Add in the crunchy green beans, halved cherry tomatoes and the chicken. Toss well. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.


Enjoy!


Do you keep cool in summer by eating salads too? Here are a few you are sure to enjoy!


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