I love salads, but they get boring so quickly. The standard combination of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and dressing is sort of antiquated. I can see why most people, including pregnant women, are not that enthusiastic about eating them. Salads are crying out for some new combinations of flavors and textures to make them exciting again.
The best thing about salads, whether eaten as a lunch, snack, or light dinner, is that they can be any combination of items you have on hand.
Lettuce does not need to be the main ingredient. I discovered that I could create a salad that is loaded with taste, protein, and other healthy nutrients by using simple things that I already had on hand. My White Bean Salad with Chicken can be served warm or cold. You can add in as many ingredients as you like or use more of ones that are your favorites without changing how healthy it is. While I prefer a zesty vinaigrette, any type of dressing can be used. Further, this salad can be used as a side dish to your favorite piece of roasted meat or fish. Try experimenting with different ingredient combinations but be sure to keep the beans for protein and fiber.
White Bean Salad with Chicken
- 1 15-ounce can of white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups of diced, cooked chicken
- 2 cups of diced zucchini
- 1 cup diced celery
- ¼ cup finely diced feta cheese
- ½ cup diced sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 cup diced, fresh basil
- 2 cups chopped arugula, escarole, romaine or Bibb lettuce
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 to 6 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon or brown mustard
- Prepare vinaigrette: Put finely minced garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Add orange juice, vinegar, and mustard; whisk until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Add in additional orange juice, salt and pepper as needed for taste. Set aside
- Prepare the salad: Combine beans, chicken, zucchini, celery, and sun-dried tomatoes in a large bowl. Add in feta cheese, basil and vinaigrette; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve: Place greens on a plate and spoon the salad on top. Or, gently toss greens with salad mix and serve in a bowl garnished with additional basil.
Hint: Do not mix greens with salad mixture if not eating immediately. The vinaigrette will wilt the greens and make them soggy. Instead, wrap the greens in damp paper towels and keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to serve.