As much as I love salads, I rarely order them as a main course in a restaurant because frankly, I think I do a better job of making them at home. Also I find that many restaurants use bottled dressings instead of making their own vinaigrette. I have never cared for the taste of bottled dressings no matter whose fancy chef’s name they put on the label.
So when we were in Chattanooga last summer having lunch with Meakin’s son at J. Alexander’s, I spotted a grilled chicken salad on the menu that appealed to me. It said the chicken was tossed with a mixture of baby salad greens, fresh herbs, crunchy cabbage, and topped with crispy tortilla strips. I asked the waitress about the dressing and she said the chef makes his own house balsamic vinaigrette. Sounding better by the minute, I broke my own rule about ordering a salad in a restaurant, then crossed my fingers, and placed my order. After the couple of bites I interrupted their conversation. “This is fabulous. I would have never thought to add shredded cabbage to a green salad.” You might call this an “ah ha” moment for me in salad making and surprised everyone at the table, including me.
At home I’ve made this salad numerous times with grilled chicken breasts and left-over roasted chicken breasts and both work equally well. What I do have problem with is how to keep organic baby greens fresh in my refrigerator for any length of time. I buy the ones in the clamshell packages and invariably some of the greens get damp and go limp too quickly when stored in the clamshell.
I saw this idea somewhere, but I can’t remember where. It said to repackage the organic greens as soon as you bring them home into two plastic bags and seal the bags with a clip, leaving a lot of air in the bag so the greens can breathe. It works like a charm and I haven’t thrown away any since I started using this idea. If you’ve looked at the price of organic baby greens lately, you’ll appreciate any ideas on how to lengthen their freshness time. If you’ve discovered other methods that work for you, please share it with me. I’m all ears.
This is a simple, unpretentious salad, certainly not gourmet fare. Instead it’s the kind of meal that’s made for lazy summer days such as the 4th of July when you have more on your mind that slaving in the kitchen. When I think of the 4th of July, coleslaw invariably comes to mind. The shredded cabbage in this brings a lovely crunch as well as an element of surprise to a green salad. If you can find a baby greens mix that includes fresh herbs, all the better, or use assorted fresh herbs from your garden such as parsley and dill. Coleslaw mix works well, but shred your cabbage if you like. I make my own balsamic vinaigrette and for crunch I top the salad with purchased Chow Mein noodles in place of the tortilla strips. You could also make your own homemade tortilla strips as Meakin did here for Mexican soup. An Asian vinaigrette with rice vinegar would also be delicious.
There’s not really a “recipe” for this. For two people I put a good handful or two of organic baby greens with herbs in a large salad bowl along with a big handful of bagged coleslaw mix, chopped roasted chicken breasts, and toss the mixture with a vinaigrette of 1 tablespoon good aged balsamic vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and generously top with Chow Mein noodles. Easily doubled or tripled.
I hope you and your family have a safe and happy 4th of July filled with plenty of good food and sunshine.
One year ago – Firecracker Coleslaw