I know that we’re into the cooler weather now, and casseroles, soups and stews are going to be the norm for the next few months, but I just can’t help but crave a good salad, even during the Fall and Winter seasons.
One day last week; I went out for lunch, and I ordered a small salad. It had just lettuce, tomatoes, and mozzarella slices that were cut real tiny, and rolled up into little curls… Now, one would think that if I ordered a salad that simple, then I should have been looking for a dressing that would be on the lighter side. Well, one would be wrong…. because I ate it with ranch dressing! Not too much, but just enough to lightly coat the lettuce. I really love a good ranch dressing that has that true buttermilk tang, you know? With only those three ingredients (four if you count the dressing), it was so delicious. I couldn’t get enough of those mozzarella curls. Not only were they pretty, but just plain fun to eat… I wondered then why I don’t eat salad every day.
Even though I went light on that one (well, excluding the dressing…), I usually like to load my salads with different ingredients. I love the complexity of the different flavors that just burst in my mouth with every bite. ~ And~ Because I like so many different things in my salad at once, each bite is different every single time. Love that!
Even though I said that I like salads to be all complex and blah blah blah… This time around, I stuck to more of a simple salad for this recipe. It has a few ingredients, but not too many. Not only is it a quick and easy prep, but it is completely satisfying. Perfect for a quick meal after work when you’re just plain tired. It’s easy to pack up in a jar for lunch the next day too… just put the dressing into a separate jar so that it doesn’t make the salad soggy.
Chicken and Greens Pasta Salad
Just a quick note…. Can I call the dressing Caesar? I’m not sure. I guess it’s my own version…but what I am sure of, is that I love the background flavor of lemon, and the hint of the nutty anchovies. Honestly? I’m not an anchovy fan at all, so I would understand if you want to omit them. I can’t explain why I like them in this dressing…. Maybe it’s because it’s such a small amount, it doesn’t overpower the dressing. The mayonnaise makes it a tad creamy, but no too invasive.
For the salad:
12 cups mesclun greens
2 small heirloom tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen (but thawed) peas
½ small red onion, sliced thin
1 – 6 oz can black olives, sliced thin
1 – 5.75 oz jar of green olives, slices thin
½ pound cooked angel hair pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
Rinse and pat dry the mesclun greens. Place 3 cups on each of four plates. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber. Slice the black olives, green olives, and red onion. Divide the tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, green olives, and onions into four servings, and arrange on top of the mesclun greens. Divide the cooked pasta into four servings and layer on top of the salad mixture. Layer the peas on top of the pasta.
For the Chicken:
2 boneless chicken breasts, each split in half to make 4 pieces
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
In a small bowl, make the spice mixture by combining the paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
Pound the chicken until it’s about ½ inch thin, and rub with the spice mixture.
Cover bottom of griddle with olive oil, and heat over medium flame/heat. Add the chicken and cook on one side for 8 to 10 minutes until golden. Flip the chicken over to cook the other side for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until fully cooked (no more pink in the middle!). Chicken is fully cooked when it has an internal temperature of 165°.
For the Dressing:
1 pasteurized egg yolk, uncooked
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp capers
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
¼ cup Romano cheese
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, worchestershire sauce, garlic, pepper, salt, anchovy paste, capers, mustard, mayonnaise, and Romano cheese into a food processor, and pulse on low until well blended. Turn the processor on high, and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the egg yolk mixture.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad.