Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Special Salads

During the school year, every Sunday (my grocery shopping day) I say a special prayer to the Lord-Of-Chain-Stores for depositing Trader Joe’s in our little oasis among grass seed farms (how exciting is our neighborhood?).  I stop into the still new store on Sundays to help prepare me for the week to come.  I tend to eat my main meal at lunchtime when at work and then kind of gently graze in the evenings.  I absolutely love two of Trader Joe’s salads –‘ BBQ Chicken Salad” and “Mexicali Salad”.  But in the middle of June when the school year ended panic set in.  I would be out of town for most of the summer.  How could I possibly survive without my favorite salads?  Looking at the content labels I decided that both salads could be made multiple times with leftover everything.  As for the chicken - left-over grilled is best but any cooked chicken is good.  I like chicken thighs grilled on our small electric grill (copy-cat of the ever popular George Foreman grill)

I haven’t even tried to obtain secret ingredients or ingredient amounts from the Trader Joe Company.  But I am sitting in front of two ingredient lists and I trust that you can take the items listed to create a salad that you and possible guests will enjoy.  The amounts given are for one (somewhat large but good) meal serving.

Making one salad each day can be tedious. What works well for me is cooking and chopping the chicken and prepping the vegies all at once and then storing them in various containers and zip-lock baggies. You could even try freezing proportioned baggies of chicken, beans, corn, red pepper, etc.

BBQ Chicken Salad

1 TBSP BBQ sauce (use your favorite)
¼ cup Ranch dressing
~½ cup cubed tenderly cooked chicken
~1 to 2 cups torn-to-bit-sized pieces romaine lettuce
2 TBSP black beans
2 TBSP corn
2 TBSP red pepper (chopped)
½ cup crushed tortilla chips
1 TBSP shredded Jack cheese, optional
To the above recipe (which is only an approximation of the real thing) I add a couple of tablespoons  cilantro. 

Mexicali Salad

~1/2 cup cubed chicken that has been cooked with a spice rub or chili powder (or add the spice rub after)
~2 cups mixed salad greens
~2 TBSP corn
~2 TBSP red bell pepper, chopped
2 TBSP sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 TBSP chopped cilantro
2 TBSP pepitas  (pumpkin seeds)  can’t find pepitas/pumpkin seeds – use toasted pine nuts
2 TBSP grated Asiago cheese (Jack or other mild, soft cheese), optional
¼ cup jalepeno-casear dressing   (my take is to take some Caesar dressing and add jalapeƱo Tabaco sauce to taste)

These two salads can be “kitchen sink” meals - mix it all up and change the ingredients to add your own touch = cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. All vegies come to mind.  Both salads have a Southwestern taste with the BBQ sauce, tortilla chips, corn, beans and other ingredients.   Avocados or guacamole add an additional taste treat to both salads.

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