Strawberry Mango & Avocado Salad

 

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Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley

It’s definitely spring here in Texas and the thermostat hitting 80 degrees in my house today proves it!  No, I’m not ready yet to turn on the air conditioner so I threw together this spring salad instead of heating up the kitchen by cooking!  I paired it with grilled chipotle pork chops and dinner was done in less than 30 minutes.  Even my nine year old middle-child, who insists she hates mango, gobbled this up, admitting that this mango tasted better than her school’s.  I’ll take that as a compliment!

In case you’re not in the know, this is what I used to cut the mango, then I just scored both halves with a knife, both length and cross wise and scooped squares away from the skin and set the skin aside.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • pinch cayenne
  • 4 mangos, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 5 avocados, pitted and cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, vinegar, orange juice, lime juice and cayenne.
  2. Toss with the avocado, strawberries, and mango, then allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Serve in the mango or avocado shells to be just a little less boring.  Top with a sprig of mint if you want to get real fancy!
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Mexican Cherry Tomato Salad

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Source, Pink Parsley.  Simple, fast and healthy, this makes a refreshing meal that has plenty of protein without the meat.

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • black pepper
  • 1 can (about 2 cups) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14 oz. can corn
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Directions

1.  Toss the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar in a medium bowl; let stand for up to 30 minutes.

2.  Transfer to a colander and toss with rubber spatula until excess liquids have been removed.  Some seeds may sneak into the liquid – that’s ok.  You could use a salad spinner for this part to remove most of the juice and seeds.  I didn’t, and had a lot of seeds in the liquid and still in the tomatoes.  No big.  You should have between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid reserved, discard any excess.

3.  Return tomatoes to the bowl and set aside.

4.  Add the liquid to a small saucepan with the garlic, red pepper flakes, shallot, and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced to 3 Tablespoons, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a small bowl, and allow to cool about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the oil and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

7.  To the bowl with the tomatoes, add the black beans, corn, scallions, cilantro, and Pepper Jack.  Toss with the dressing and serve.

Southwest Pasta Salad

 

DSC_5584 copyI didn’t have chicken prepared for this dish, found at Our Best Bites, so I pulled out eight chicken tenders from the freezer, put them in a large skillet and added all the ingredients for Taco Chicken.  I let it simmer, covered until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  I had the pasta water set to boil while the chicken cooked, chopped the veggies while my oldest daughter grated the zest off the limes and had everything ready to eat in under 45 minutes.  This salad makes a TON.  This is definitely something you could make to share or take.  Serves at least 6 adults as a main dish and 12 as a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 14.5 oz. bowtie pasta
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced or about 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen fresh corn
  • zest from 3 limes
  • optional: 8 oz. cooked chicken, diced (this is fantastic)
  • 1/2 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese

Dressing:

  • 6 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rice vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions

1.  Zest the limes over a large salad bowl then add the beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, & corn and set aside.

2.  Boil pasta in salted water until cooked.

3.  While the pasta cooks, prepare dressing:  Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar in a blender.  (Basically everything except the cilantro and oil)  Process until smooth.  With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  Add the cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up, but some pieces still remain in tact.

4.  When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool.

5.  Place the pasta & chicken in the large bowl with the lime and vegetables.  Toss with dressing.

For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.

Orchard Harvest Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

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I recently came across the Sisters Running the Kitchen blog and they have some really great stuff on there!  This salad practically screamed out to me because I’ve ordered a similar salad at Potbelly’s many times and fall in love with it more every time.  Despite some people’s (you know who you are) beliefs that a salad can’t be a meal on its own, the chicken could easily be left off with an extra handful of salad on your plate.
Ingredients – Salad

  • 5oz. Spring Mix salad
  • D’Anjou pears, sliced (or whatever kind you have)
  • toasted pecans, diced
  • cooked/grilled chicken breast
  • dried cherries
  • pomegranate
  • Gorgonzola Cheese

Ingredients – Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C cherry preserves
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 C olive oil
  • salt
  • ground black pepper

Directions for Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinaigrette ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar.
2.  Simmer the mixture, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
3.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature
4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
5. Pile salad on your plate & pour the vinaigrette on.  Top with pears, pecans, chicken, cherries, pomagranate & cheese on top.  I served this with Asiago cheese bread and butter.  YUM!

Sweet Potato Salad

DSC_3752 copyI wanted a potato salad for the barbequed turkey my mom made for us while she visited but, since it’s October, having a potato salad seemed a little too summery.  Like we should be having stew or chili instead.  Here in Texas though, the temperatures are still well into the upper 80s so I figured I could get away with a salad for a while longer.  What better way to celebrate a warm fall day with this sweet potato salad I found at All Recipes?  It far exceeded my expectations in flavor and the colors are warm enough to compete with the more traditional Autumn fare!

Ingredients
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool, peel and chop.  (I was tempted to peel them before cooking but this was SO easy!)
  2. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water; cool, peel and chop.
  3. Combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, and onion.
  4. Whisk together the mayonnaise, and mustard. Add to potato mixture, toss well to coat. Refrigerate and serve chilled.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.

Chipotle Chicken Salad

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Adapted from Our Best Bites

Salad

  • 4 cups chopped Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped grilled chicken (I used Taco Chicken*)
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 8 3/4 oz. can corn, rinsed and drained

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup sour cream (can also substitute Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoons salt

Optional: Crunchy tortillas

Directions

1.  In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients, reserving a little lime juice to toss over salad to help keep the avocado from browning.  Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

2.  In a large bowl, combine lettuce, chicken, beans, corn, onion, avocado and tomatoes.  Sprinkle lightly with lime juice to keep avocados from browning, and gently mix. Set aside.

3.  When you’re ready to serve, gently toss salad and dressing.  Place the tortillas on the bottom of each bowl then top with mixed salad.

*Taco Chicken – also from Our Best Bites

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In large Ziploc bag combine all ingredients and let marinate at least 30 minutes.  Cook chicken on grill, or you know, whatever you have and there you have it!  Yummy taco-y chicken!

Chicken Rice Noodle Salad & Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

 

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Adapted from: For the Love of Cooking

I didn’t leave enough time to let this sit and “marinate” after I’d mixed everything together but I think it would benefit the flavor of the salad a lot to do so.  I’d say an hour in the fridge would be perfect!

Spicy Lime Vinaigrette:

  • juice of three limes
  • 1/4 cup of seasoned rice vinegar (you can use plain too)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Salad:

  • 6 ounces of Rice noodles, prepared per instructions
  • 1 1/2 cups of roasted chicken, shredded (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, thinly sliced

Prepare the rice noodles per instructions; once cooked, rinse with cold water and drain well. Combine all ingredients, mix well and serve!

This made enough for my family of five and then enough for at least two more adult lunches.

Ranch Chicken Salad

DSC_1569 copyAdapted from All Recipes

Ingredients
  • 12 chicken tenders
  • 3/4 cup steak sauce
  • 1 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds spooned out, then sliced again into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) mini bowtie pasta
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 3 avocados, split, pitted and diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip mix (you’ll only use 1 1/2 cups of the dip)
  • 2 cups sour cream

Directions

Marinate chicken in steak sauce for at least 30  minutes.  The longer the better, up to a day.

1.  In a large bowl, mix Ranch packet with sour cream.  To about 1 1/2 cups of the dip, add sliced tomatoes & cucumber; set aside.
2.  Grill chicken until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove from grill, and chop into bite-size pieces.
3.  Add bouillon to a large pot of boiling water then add pasta.  Cook according to package directions.  Drain, and rinse under cold water.
4.  Add chicken and pasta to bowl with Ranch, tomatoes and cucumber.  Add avocados last or to each individual bowl to prevent mashing it up in the salad (and also avoids allowing the avocado to brown in the salad).  Cover, and refrigerate until chilled – or if you’re like me, just eat it up!  This made enough for my family of five with enough left over for at least two more adult servings.

Teriyaki Pork Salad

DSC_0448 copyI had intentions of cooking Teriyaki Pork for dinner this week but when I pulled up the recipe I decided to (ask The Man) grill the pork and make it all into a salad instead.  It was a gorgeous blend of colors, flavors and SO good I made it a second night with the leftover pork steaks!


Ingredients

  • 6 thick cut pork chops

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • juice of one navel orange

Salad

  • 10 oz bag Spring Salad mix
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • juice of one navel orange
  • sugar snap peas
  • tomatoes (I used one Roma per person)
  • 2 11 oz. cans Mandarin oranges
  • Italian blend cheeses, grated (or Mozzarella/Parmesan etc)

Directions
Combine all marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag with pork. Marinate for at least an hour (longer for best results; up to 24 hours) and grill.

Layer salad and cucumbers on each plate then liberally drizzle juice from one of the oranges over salad and cucumbers.  Continue to layer the peas and tomatoes.  Add pork, mandarin oranges and sprinkle with cheeses.  I served this up with garlic toast and we all headed outdoors to enjoy dinner in the shade of our backyard!