Weeknight Shorts: Salad Days

I love mixing sweet and savory or smooth and crispy when it comes to salads. It makes them interesting and, by the very nature of those elements, gives a lot of variety to a salad. So when August rolls around and we're all making sweating part of our new hobbies, I love making colorful, creative salads the centerpiece of at least one or two meals a week. This time around, I'm showcasing one that gives us everything from vibrant green to jewel-toned purple and spicy tender chicken to sweet crunchy peas:

Did I mention there's both tart creamy goat cheese and sharp shredded cheddar, too? Every item in this salad brings something different to the table and the result is a salad that feels less like a traditional salad and more like a work of art that you can eat! What's more, the chicken cooks in less than 10 minutes and nothing else in the salad requires you to touch the stove! On a hot day, that's a huge relief. You could even make the chicken in advance if you have a cool evening or morning to work with in advance. That said, if you take that route, consider microwaving the chicken just a bit before adding it to the salad, as it being a little warm adds yet another interesting element to the dish. Cool greens paired with warm chicken is just perfect for me.

What can you have with this salad? How about a glass of lemonade and some peace of mind? If you must have something with it, consider keeping it simple. Maybe some breadsticks or the like? I don't even serve this salad with a dressing because I love it so much as it is. You could add a dressing, of course, but you've already got a lot going on. Why not chill out, enjoy your salad for dinner, and then find an excuse to find the nearest ice cream shop for dessert. You had a lovely, healthy dinner, after all. Besides, salad days won't last forever and now's the time to pause and actually enjoy them!

Plum-Chèvre-Chicken Salads

  • Cooking spray
  • 10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1-2 T. honey
  • 10 oz. mixed greens
  • 1/3 c. chopped snow peas
  • 1/4 c. sliced garlic scapes (or green onions)
  • 2 ripe plums, pitted and sliced into wedges
  • 2 oz. chèvre, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. finely grated sharp white cheddar (optional)

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cooking spray and the chicken tenderloins. Sprinkle the chicken generously with the seasonings, making sure to coat all sides. When the chicken is nearly browned, add the honey to the skillet (more for sweeter chicken, less for spicier chicken) and toss the cooked chicken to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the chicken to rest while you assemble the salads.

To assemble the salads, divide the greens, snow peas, garlic scapes (or green onions), plums, and cheeses among two large serving plates. Carefully place the cooked chicken over the top and serve immediately. If desired, you can slice the chicken into pieces prior to adding it to the salad, but I do think it looks particularly lovely as pictured above.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes