Greek Salad with Seared Salmon

Greek salad is one of my all-time favorite main courses. Eaten vegetarian, it's inherently healthy between the diverse array of vegetables and extra-virgin olive oil. I also love adding a hefty block of feta cheese on top! 

When I know I need a few extra omega-3s in my diet, however, there's no better choice than a Greek salad with seared salmon.

For the pescatarian version, I typically use a little less feta and dressing than usual to keep the overall calorie count down - just because it's salad doesn't mean it's low calorie! The salmon adds an extra dimension of flavor that marries well with the salad greens and makes for quite the balanced meal.

Every time I eat Greek salad, I feel slightly euphoric, similar to the "runners high" after a challenging workout. I can almost feel the nutrients running through my veins. I guarantee you will feel healthier after making this recipe and hope that this one will become a staple in your kitchen!

Greek Salad with Seared Salmon

Time: 25 Minutes
Serves 4 

Ingredients
½ cup extra virgin olive, oil divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
2 heads butter lettuce leaves
½ English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
12 Kalamata olives
3 medium vine ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and oregano. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.

Coat the salmon fillets with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season evenly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Increase the heat to medium-high and add salmon in two batches, skin-side up. Sear salmon until the fillets are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, then turn over and cook on the opposite side until browned and the internal temperature reaches 140F. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Plate lettuce leaves and top with cucumbers, red onions, olives, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Top salad with warm salmon fillets. Sprinkle with feta on top and drizzle reserved dressing. Enjoy! 


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Rotisserie Chicken Salad with Avocado and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

There's nothing like a Rotisserie Chicken Salad. You get all the benefits of cooking up a whole chicken without actually having to do any of the work!

Case in point: this easy chicken salad recipe! It's so good, I could eat at least some variation of it at least once a week.

Who doesn't love rotisserie chicken anyway?! It's one of the most tempting buys at the grocery store. Between the amazing aroma, the lighting on the bird, and the crispiness of the skin, you know you have to buy it, but what will you do with it? Make this salad of course!

This salad is also easy to make in the outdoors. Check out my step-by-step images on Alite's Outdoor 101 recipe page: Roasted Chicken and Avocado Salad.

Pro tip: warm up the chicken and dressing before serving it over the salad. You'll recapture all those incredible aromas from the rotisserie section of your grocery store! Warmed salads always hit the spot anyway.

Roasted Chicken and Avocado Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Time: 10 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 head butter lettuce leaves, gently torn
1 small head of radicchio leaves, gently torn
1/2 cup packed mint leaves, stemmed
1 small cucumber or 1/2 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
4 oz sharp feta or blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup honey mustard vinaigrette, divided
2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 avocado, peeled, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, toss salad greens with mint, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, crumbled cheese, and ½ cup honey-mustard vinaigrette. Divide salad between shallow bowls or plates and top with shredded chicken, avocado, and additional salad dressing if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy immediately!


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Easy Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Adrian and I have been craving salad as a main course recently, but we wanted something different from our go-tos, including Greek salad and Nicoise salad. I know, I know, both salads are amazing, but I wanted something so simple that I barely had to think about it. 

So when I did my usual weekly routine of online grocery shopping at Good Eggs, I quickly selected a couple of my favorite greens, a refreshing cucumber, sous vide chicken, and the tastiest blue cheese ever by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese. My garden and my pantry supplied the rest: fresh mint leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds, and Primal Kitchen’s Honey Mustard Vinaigrette. Mixing these all together, I found myself an incredible salad! Oh, and a Mission Accomplished!

Online grocery shopping: 2 Minutes.

Gardening: 1 Minute.

Food Prep: 10 Minutes.

Plating: 2 minutes.

Everything done in: you got it! 15 minutes. 

This brings me to a key point in salad making that I would love to share with you! The best way to make an incredible salad on the spot is by pairing different textures with a little bit of meat and cheese! Pairing soft ingredients like lettuce and mint with crunchy ingredients like radicchio, cucumbers, and pumpkin seeds will take your palate to salad heaven. Add a bit of salad dressing - sweet, vinegary - your choice, and you’re golden. 

Try this salad out or try making your own with these simple tips! It’s certainly healthier and even quicker than taking a trip out for fast food.

Easy Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Time: 10 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 heads of butter lettuce leaves, gently torn
1 small head of radicchio leaves, gently torn
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
1 medium seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 lb cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
8 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup honey mustard vinaigrette
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Toss the salad greens, herbs, cucumber, chicken, blue cheese, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Dress with honey  mustard vinaigrette and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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Carrot and Mung Bean Salad with Root Vegetable, Cauliflower and Tomato Soup

What kind of person purchases mung beans on a whim, never having used them in cooking before?! Oh right, me! But they’ve sat on my shelf for several months now and I knew it was time to put them to good use. 

Flipping through Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I was inspired by one of his lentil salad recipes and figured I could do something similar with mung beans. So when I Googled mung bean salad, it totally cracked me up that the first recipe I found was by Ottolenghi. I was sold, mostly because I trust that the masterful chef knows what to do with an infamously boring legume.

So how did it turn out? Oh, just some crazy flavor explosions and sheer vegetarian happiness. It’s crazy how much mung beans can brighten up with just a little added spice, vinegar, and cheese. I served the beans with a simple Indian-inspired vegetable soup (not Ottolenghi's), which was also quite delicious! Both recipes are below. Pro Tip: if you make both recipes, add some of the leftover carrot liquid from the mung bean recipe to the vegetable soup broth. Adds a nice touch!

Carrot and Mung bean Salad 

Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
3/4 cup dried green mung beans
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch batons
½ tsp sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4.5 cups feta, crumbled

Directions
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add the beans and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until they are cooked but still retain a bite. Drain, shake well and transfer to a large bowl. About three minutes before the beans are done, heat two tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan and add the seeds. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until they start to pop – about three minutes – then pour, hot oil and all, over the beans, along with the vinegar, garlic, chili and half a teaspoon of salt.

While the beans are cooking, lay the carrots in a pan large enough for them to form a shallow layer on the bottom. Pour over about 2/3 cups water – the carrots should be nearly submerged – plus two tablespoons of oil and half a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and keep on a high heat for eight minutes, by which time the water should have evaporated and the carrots become slightly caramelized but still crunchy. Drain some liquid, if needed.

Add the carrots to the bean bowl, along with the cilantro, and stir gently. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl, sprinkle over lemon zest, dot with feta and drizzle with olive oil.

Root Vegetable, Cauliflower and Tomato Soup

Time: 35 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 medium watermelon radish, about 1/2 lb, cut into 1” pieces
1 large Yukon gold potato, cut into 1” pieces
3 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4’ diagonals
3/4 cup cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
4 cups water
1 medium tomato, roughly chopped

Directions
Add all of the vegetables, except the chopped tomato, into a large pot or Dutch oven. Cover with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are al dente, about 20 minutes. Add tomato (and juices from mung bean recipe, if using), and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Serve immediately.

Smoked Salmon Belly & Frisee Salad with Celery Root and Walnuts

Isn’t it awesome when you can have a salad for your main course? This salad is not only filling, but delicious to the extreme. The smoked salmon belly just melts in your mouth and pairs really well with the dressing. Did I mention it only takes 10 minutes to make? Yep, dinner in 10 is totally cool with me!

Smoked Salmon Belly & Frisee Salad with Celery Root and Walnuts

Adapted from Peggy Knickerbocker

Time: 10 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 large shallot, minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 small heads frisee, torn into pieces
1 medium celery root, peeled
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 lb smoked salmon belly pieces

Directions
Combine shallot, balsamic vinegar, and 3 tbsp olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, whisk, and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and stir until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels, sprinkle with salt and let cool.

With a mandolin, slice the celery root very thin. Stack pieces and cut into small strips.

Add the frisee to the dressing and toss well. Add the celery root, walnuts, and cheese. Toss again, and serve over plates, topped with salmon belly. 

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin Salad with Braised Fennel and Radicchio

I’ve been making the most delicious fennel-rubbed pork tenderloin thanks to Ian Knauer for several years now. I usually serve it over a lemony orzo risotto, but this time I decided to adapt the recipe into a salad when I had a little radicchio on hand from an impulse buy at the grocery store. 

Okay, so it wasn’t really an impulse buy. While I didn’t know exactly what I would do with the radicchio when I bought it, I knew something would come to me.  And that it did! Amazingly, our annual fennel plant we planted last year rebounded, and produced several more delicious bulbs this year. We also had some pomegranates sitting in the fridge from a friend’s tree. It made perfect sense that these sweet flavors would make a delicious pairing with the bitter radicchio, and could also be a good lesson in food history for all of you.

Believe it or not, I actually love radicchio for its bitter flavors. Full disclosure: I had my DNA analyzed a couple years ago and my genes did give me away as a person who likes bitter foods, which explains why I like black coffee and IPA! But you know what? People who like bitter foods tend to be healthier overall. This is because there are more phytonutrients in bitter produce than mild produce, which is due to the fact that modern agriculture bred these phytonutrients out in favor of sweeter produce with even less fiber. 

So what does this mean for us in the modern era? It means that it’s beneficial to test our palate, and even if we don’t like the flavors the first or second time, we can become accustomed to them, or even pair them with other ingredients to balance the flavors. So the next time you bite into a bitter vegetable, like radicchio or arugula, instead of turning up your nose, maybe think how you can make it yummy! Pro tip: Look for vegetables rich in deep colors like purple, green, red, orange, and blue. These pigments are full of antioxidants that can fight cancer and prevent heart disease. For more reading on this, check out this interesting article in the New York Times.

Below is the recipe. I hope you make it and enjoy it! It’s not too bitter in the end. I promise.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin Salad with Braised Fennel and Radicchio

Adapted from Ian Knauer
Time: 45 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

Pork Tenderloin
1 tsp fennel seeds
Kosher Salt
Pepper
1 lb pork tenderloin
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch wedges (reserve 1/4 cup fronds)
2 tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicen broth
2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp lemon juice

Radicchio Salad
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 small head radicchio, trimmed, leaves torn
1 small bunch chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
Seeds from 1 small pomegranate
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the middle.

In a small skillet, toast fennel seeds over medium heat, bout 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool. Roughly grind seeds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Pat pork dry, then sprinkle with crushed fennel seeds and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. 

Heat oil in a 12-inch oven-proof heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate. Sauté garlic and fennel wedges in skillet until fennel is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add wine, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then stir in broth and butter. Nestle pork top of fennel and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 to 150°F, about 15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer skillet to stovetop (handle will be hot) and boil, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon juice and reserved fennel fronds. Remove from heat.

In a large serving bowl, prepare dressing by whisking olive oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp of the braising liquid from the skillet and torn radicchio. Toss to combine and let sit 5 minutes to soften. Add braised fennel wedges, chives, pomegranate seeds, and toss again to combine. 

Thinly slice pork and serve over radicchio salad. Garnish with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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Blackberry Balsamic Chicken

 

This is another recipe adapted from Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner. I paired it here with a summer salad of garden-grown tomatoes, red onions, and a couple slices of baguette. It’s super delicious and takes just a few minutes to make. Plus, with fewer than 7 ingredients, it’s easy to meal plan. Theflavor of the chicken preserves is to die for if you haven’t had that combination. It’s August now, but these flavors are soooo making me look forward to Thanksgiving, yum!

 

Blackberry Balsamic Chicken

Time: 15 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup chopped red onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
4boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1⁄3 cup seedless blackberry preserves
2tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken to skillet and saute 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm. Add onion to skillet and saute till translucent. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme. Add preserves, vinegar, and salt and pepper, stirring constantly until the preserves melt. Spoon the sauce over chicken to serve.

The Real Deal Greek Salad

 

The best Greek Salad is something you can really only eat in Greece (or in my house)! My husband and I should know – that’s where we met studying abroad in 2003, and I think we ate our weight in salad on the island of Paros. The only Greek Salad I knew before visiting was pretty weak – limp lettuce, boring sliced black olives, a few chopped tomatoes, maybe some cucumbers, and crumbled feta cheese. It’s a shame that the salads I see in the US barely meet my standards for an appetizer, let alone a whole meal. But the Greeks know how to do it right. I suppose they’ve been making it a little longer than we have, so there’s that.

Anyway, Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner has a great recipe for Greek Salad, but we’ve improved on it, and made it a little more authentic. Our salad is a full meal, providing around 500-600 calories depending on how big your block of cheese is. We’ve adapted the recipe below:

 

The Real Deal Greek Salad

Serves 2

Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad
1 head butter lettuce leaves
3 tomatoes, sliced
12 Kalamata olives
1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1 (100g) block Valbreso feta cheese

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Plate lettuce leaves and top with remaining salad ingredients, adding the cheese on top. Drizzle with dressing and serve with with whole grain rolls.

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