Peachy Keen Chicken Salad

Peachy Keen Chicken Salad

This salad!!! Oh my! New family favorite. I love to cook using ingredients in their peak season and right now peaches are perfection. Mmmm! This salad is our only meal of the day…it’s that hearty and satisfying!

The base flavors of this salad are peaches, goat cheese, blueberries and basil. These flavors compliment each other with sweet, savory and tangy tastes.

Salad notes – I always try to add a hidden vegetable to bump the nutritional value and the hidden jem here are green beans. They don’t change the taste but add nutrition and pack a crunch.

Bacon and peaches play off of each other with salty & sweet flavors and give this extra layers of YUM!

Compote note – Leeks add a savory tang to the sweet peaches and sugar in the compote. Balance is key to a yummy dish.

Marinade note – I always use grapeseed oil when I can. It’s better for our hearts than other oils and can handle heat up to 500 degrees which makes it perfect for the grill to help keep proteins from sticking when flipping.

Peach Compote:

6              fresh peaches; peeled and sliced

1/4c         sugar

1              leek; white part only finely sliced

Chicken marinade:

4 -6         chicken breasts (# of pieces depends on # of servings)

4T           balsamic vinegar

3T           garlic powder (not garlic salt)

1T           Herbs de Provence

4T           grapeseed oil

Salt & pepper to taste (be a little generous with the salt)

Dressing:

1/2c         balsamic vinegar

1/2c         extra virgin olive oil

2              fresh peaches; peeled and Sliced

2T            good white wine (preferably not “cooking wine”)

1/4c         sugar

1/2t          salt

1T            Herbs de Provence

Salad:

10oz       spring lettuce

5oz         baby kale

1/2c       fresh basil; finely chopped

2c            fresh green beans; ends cut off and beans cut in thirds

1c            green onions; chopped

4oz         goat cheese; crumbled

1c bacon; cooked and crumbled

1c            cranberries (50% less sugar)

1pint      blueberries

1c            pecan pieces

3              fresh peaches; peeled and sliced

1c            red pepper; diced

1              avocado; sliced

Peach compote topping

Directions:

1. Begin the peach compote. Place 6 sliced peaches and sugar in small saucepot and cooking on medium heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.

2. Once bubbling, turn down the heat to low and add sliced leeks. Simmer on low until sauce becomes translucent and compote is loose-jam consistency. It will take a good 20 minutes so start this step first.

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3. While compote is reducing, prep chicken by rinsing the chicken then the trimming fat and cutting breasts in half lengthwise.

4. Add chicken halves to a gallon plastic bag and then add the marinade ingredients.

5. Massage the bag gently and thoroughly to coat the chicken pieces evenly.  Set aside.

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6. Now make the dressing by blending all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pour into a serving bottle and chill until ready to use.

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7. Place cut green beans in a small pot with enough water to cover and boil for 5 minutes (set a timer!).

8. Immediately remove beans from heat and dunk them in an ice bath (a bowl with enough ice and cold water to cover the beans). This is called blanching. Boiling will slightly cook the beans, and the ice water bath shocks them so they stop cooking and keep their crunch and color. Keep them in the ice bath until ready to use.

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9. Heat grill and place chicken halves on the grill. Cook thoroughly. (You can also bake the chicken in the oven or air bake for approx. 20 minutes @ 350 turning halfway through- in lieu of grilling.)

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Time to assemble the salad…

10. Compote should be finished. Once it is thick, pour into a bowl and let cool on the counter while making the salad.

11. Keep checking on and turning the chicken, then remove from heat.

12. Assembling the salad – plate the ingredients per their list order beginning with lettuce and ending with avocado. (I always put the green items on the bottom so the colorful items pop on top.)

13. Drizzle dressing over top. (Leftover dressing makes a great marinade for chicken or pork – or more salads!)

14. Place two grilled chicken halves on top of each salad. Evenly spoon compote over all chicken pieces. Serve immediately.

Tuscan Tapas

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Tuscan Tapas with Field Greens

Is it possible to have authentic Italian goodness, with robust flavors of balsamic, basil & garlic, in one small bite? Absolutely! These little guys pack a punch of flavor. Tapas are typically known for Spanish cuisine, but in this recipe the name captures a bold Italian taste.

This easy, make-ahead recipe combines two recipes with a twist. Seriously, you can make the Tuscan spread days ahead (flavor gets better with time) *and even freeze it.*

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Tuscan Bean Spread with Baguette; cutting board from Crate & Barrel

The pickled red onion recipe can be made up to a month ahead and gets better with time.

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Replace field greens with avocado for richer texture and flavor. The crunch of the baguette and pickled onion contrasts the creamy bean spread and avocado for a perfect blend of YUM.

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Tuscan Tapas with Avocado

Final assembly takes only a few minutes. I love recipes that offer a lot of presentation for little amount of work. This one is great for planning ahead or spontaneous cravings. It stands alone as a tasty appetizer as well as compliments a healthy meal.

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Tuscan Tapas with grilled Mahi-Mahi, rice, grilled pineapple, snap peas, and corn on the cob.

Tuscan Tapas

Ingredients:

1                baguette; sliced

1 recipe     Tuscan bean salad

1/2 bag     mixed field greens; chopped small

1 recipe     pickled red onion; diced

1-2            avocados; sliced * optional

Directions:

  1. Make the pickled red onion recipe. Let it sit several hours to overnight for full flavor. (Can be make up to a month ahead.) Refrigerate leftovers.
  2. Slice baguette and lightly toast.
  3. Make the Tuscan bean salad. Once made, blend it in a food processor until smooth with the consistency of hummus. (Can be made ahead, frozen & thawed.) Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
  4. Plate baguette slices on serving plate.
  5. Spoon the bean spread onto baguette slices.
  6. Place chopped field greens on the spread. *Alternate Option: Replace field greens with slice of avocado.
  7. Top with diced, drained pickled red onion.