Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Sort-of Caesar Salad

It’s April again, almost time to move out of the house and aboard the boat. I’m running a bit behind on my schedule for clearing out the freezer and using up all of the perishables in the kitchen. I think I say that every year, usually in March. No matter, it makes meal-planning an interesting game.

When I opened the refrigerator door last night, WOW!, thoughts of summer cruising flashed through my mind. Really? after a wet and dreary Seattle day, those memories were something to smile about! Discovering some deli-roasted chicken, a head of broccoli and some red peppers in the fridge brought flashbacks of past galley meals.  Quick-to-fix, full meal salads are very popular with this cook, and the Capt. and guests seem to enjoy them as well. I know, there are a gazillion recipes based on those ingredients, but this Chicken Broccoli Sort-of Caesar Salad is perfect for any day when I want to play outside instead of cooking inside. Last night it was the perfect dinner solution - an attractive and delicious one-pot meal that reminded us of good times past and future. (It also made good use of a lot of on-hand items.)

The recipe came from a 1996 cookbook by Prevention Magazine, and the original version is useful as a guide. It handles substitutions well, though any adaptations can impact the listed calorie/fat/cholesterol numbers. For me it’s all about taste and convenience; forget those numbers. Regular Greek yogurt is tastier than any nonfat yogurt, grated lemon zest provides a tangy zip, white balsamic vinegar looks prettier than regular, and dried cranberries add a nice touch of sweetness. Last night I also skipped the croutons and scattered a handful of crumbled feta cheese on top. That worked. Next time I’m sure the salad will feature different variations. I might skip the croutons or feta cheese topping and add a side of cheese quesadillas, grilled garlic toasts or even warmed pita rounds for larger appetites. The salad won’t care.

Balsamic Chicken Caesar Salad

 Prevention's Healthy One-Dish Meals in Minutes , serves 4

1 Tablespoon olive oil        
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt (note: it's regular Greek yogurt for me!)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (white balsamic is more attractive!)        
3 cloves garlic, minced (or less, to suit your taste)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup croutons

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, yogurt, vinegar, garlic and Parmesan.

Add the chicken, broccoli and peppers. Toss well and let stand for 10 minutes (the chicken will absorb some dressing).

Add the lettuce and fresh croutons. Toss well.

(Optional: sprinkle with lemon juice & black pepper just before serving)

Hands-on time: 5 min.         Per serving: 205 calories
Total time: 15 min.                  7.1 g. total fat (31% of calories)
                                             1.6 g. saturated fat
                                             26 mg. Cholesterol
                                             170 mg. Sodium

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