Weeknight Shorts: Spicy Cool
Now is a great time of the year to rely on salads for dinner. Fresh produce is abundant, the kitchen tends to be a bit hot this time of year, and salads are pretty quite to toss together. (Pun intended.) This time around, I'm sharing a salad that requires a little cooking, but the timing of that cooking is up to you. And at the end of a hot and humid day, there's something lovely about seeing this:
I almost always boil the eggs and fry the bacon before putting together this salad. In fact, I tend to do both of those things in larger quantities than called for in this recipe. Then I have a slice or two of bacon to add to a sandwich at lunch and hard-boiled eggs to either have as a quick breakfast or to include in lunches as loved ones head out the door in the morning. Even the chicken can be made in advance, although I like it a little bit warm for serving in this salad. Really, you can prep just about everything in advance, save the avocado. That's best kept for just prior to serving so it doesn't discolor.
The pan juices from the chicken get added to the salad, too, so when you toss it all together, it already has a spicy-sweet dressing built in. Some may wish to add another kind of dressing (and feel free to do just that), but I love it this way. Add a glass of frosty lemonade or iced tea and you've got dinner. No sweat!
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 1/4 c. honey
- 1 T. apple cider vinegar
- 3 strips thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 avocado, cut into bite sized cubes
- 2/3 c. grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
- 2 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
- 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion
- 2 c. chopped kale leaves
- 2 c. torn lettuce leaves
Combine the first 6 ingredients (salt through garlic powder) in a small bowl. Rub the seasoning mix into the chicken breasts, making sure to coat the meat evenly. In a nonstick skillet (add a little cooking spray or oil to the pan if desired) over medium-high heat, sauté the chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side. After 6 minutes of cooking time has elapsed, drizzle the meat with the honey and apple cider vinegar. Place a lid over the skillet and remove from the heat. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. You can prepare any of the remaining ingredients as needed while the meat rests. After 5 minutes has elapsed, carefully slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet, stirring to coat all of the pieces with the pan juices.
Combine the remaining ingredients (crumbled bacon through torn lettuce leaves) in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss well to mix the salad. Serve immediately.
- Yields: 2-3 main dish servings
- Preparation Time: 30 minutes