Posts tagged salad

Bringing back the basics

Since my past few posts have been about dishes I don’t make on a regular basis, I’m reverting to a meal we make a lot in my apartment: balsamic chicken breast over salad.  It’s nothing too fancy, and it calls for ingredients you can use in a lot of things.  Experienced chefs can skip right over this post, but for those college students looking for an easy solution for a healthy meal to rely on, check out the recipe below.  You can vary the type of chicken you make (try different marinades every now and then, or different salad dressings).  And if you have a grill, I definitely recommend using it instead of cooking the chicken in the pan like we do.  But if not, you still get a great taste, and it cooks pretty fast.

You’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (one per person)
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  I like Ken’s Steak House Creamy Balsamic, it’s thick and very flavorful.
  • Bag of lettuce of choice.  We use a spring mix.
  • One tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • Mozzarella, cut into small blocks (use as much or as little as you’d like- we LOVE mozzarella so we use about 1/3 of the block we bought)
  • Croutons.  I recommend Chatham Village in caesar 
  • Olive oil for the pan
  • Black pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic powder


To prepare the chicken:

  1. Make sure you defrost the chicken before cooking it if it’s been in the freezer.  This will help it cook faster and prevent burning.  After it’s defrosted, wash the chicken and cut off and fatty edges.
  2. Place one breast at a time in a small bowl, sprinkle all the spices listed above and rub them into the chicken.  Then lather the chicken in the balsamic dressing (make sure you have dressing and spices on both sides).  Repeat to each chicken breast.
  3. Drizzle olive oil in a large saucepan and turn the heat on medium-high.  Once the pan has heated up, place all pieces of chicken in the pan and let them cook thoroughly (about 10 minutes), flipping them regularly and adding a little more of the dressing/spice mixture from the small bowl occasionally until it’s gone.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, start chopping the (rinsed) vegetables and cheese
  5. I have a salad spinner that I love using for cleaning lettuce.  But if you don’t have one (most college students probably don’t).  Rinse the lettuce using a strainer and then dry use a paper towel if you have to dry it.
  6. Don’t forget to be checking the chicken periodically!
  7. Add the vegetables and cheese to the lettuce and sprinkle dried oregano over the salad, then mix everything together using tongs.  Sprinkle croutons on top of the salad.
  8. When the chicken is done, take it off the heat and transfer to a cutting board before cutting it into thin slices (see picture).
  9. Either add the chicken into the whole salad bowl, or let people take slices off the cutting board and put it on their individual salads.
  10. If you want you can drizzle your favorite dressing (or homemade dressing if you have the time/ingredients) over the salad and mix it in.  Or simply place out whatever dressings you have stored in you fridge and let people choose what they’d like.  Some of my favorite dressing recipes can be found at the Food Network’s index.  Some suggested store-bought dressings besides Ken’s Creamy Balsamic are Kraft Fat-free Zesty Italian, and Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette.  

Here’s a picture guide:

Cook the chicken thoroughly after rinsing, flipping it frequently while adding spices and dressing:

Rinse the lettuce using a salad spinner or a strainer:

Chop the vegetables and cheese and add them to the salad:

Take the chicken off the heat and slice it on a cutting board:

Add the chicken to the salad, or leave the slices on the cutting board letting people add chicken over their own salad:

And that’s all!  It’s pretty flexible, and you can add whatever ingredients you want or cook the chicken however you want.  Have fun with it!  It’s a very nutritious meal, and it’s something that college students can make on a regular basis without breaking the bank.

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