Sunday, July 17, 2011

let's just call that my summer vacation: southwest grilled salad

Wow.  Loving the new lululemon job, but apparently it's kicking my butt and I'm just a little out of balance with my schedule at home.  The store isn't even open yet!  Ha!  I'll get in the swing of things, but in the mean-time please accept my apologies for not posting for so long.  There.  Now let's get posting!

Apparently it's crazy hot and dry (as in no rain dry, but plenty of  humidity to go with the heat) everywhere.  I keep reminding myself that January and February are long, dark and cold months and we pay big bucks (or cash in beaucoup rewards points) in the midwinter to enjoy this kind of weather on an island somewhere.  And another delightful surprise benefit of all that hot yoga is my tolerance for heat and humidity is way up from the usual.  Yesterday one of my adorable co-workers (who is all of 19 years-old) if that meant I sweat less.  No.  Sorry, still have an amazingly efficient cooling system throwing off water like an overworked a/c unit.

Summer dinners pretty much always include something being grilled at our house.  We enjoyed the neighborhood pool this afternoon and then the World Cup soccer match was just too close to run to the store and miss it, which is a long way of saying I never got to the store.  With two refrigerators and a big chest freezer there's always something to whip together for a meal.  I looked for tofu and only had silken tofu.  I thought of turkey burgers but somehow had no ground turkey in the freezer.  But thanks to the Whole Foods boneless skinless chicken breast sale (there was another one a couple of weeks ago) there was chicken.

The fastest and the favorite way for grilling chicken this summer?  Take those boneless, skinless breasts and cut off the tenders.  Then cut the remaining meat into strips about that same size.  Toss all the chicken with a little olive oil.  Toss in generous amounts of one of two amazingly good spice rubs from Costco:  Sweet Mesquite or Rustic Tuscan.  When I say generous I really do mean it.  My chicken pieces are coated in the stuff.  There's already sea salt in the rubs, so truly that's all you need to do.  If you are really in a hurry, bust out a jaccard tenderizer and press the pieces of chicken to flatten and to get the seasoning throughout the meat.  You probably don't own a 48-blade jaccard tenderizer so just be fine with whatever chicken thickness you have.  It's always best to have all the chicken about the same thickness so the cooking time is the same.  Grill the chicken over medium heat until done.  This is usually around 7 minutes per side (just turn once).  

Tonight I also grilled sweet corn.  Husk the corn and clean off the silks (truly the only hard part, but really not that tricky and hungry people like to help).  Rub with a little olive oil and kosher salt.  Grill about 10-15 minutes over medium heat, rotating every few minutes for all-over browning.

We always grill sliced red/yellow/orange peppers and sliced red or sweet onion tossed in a little olive oil and kosher salt.  I have a nice grill basket or a grill pan (both have holes) to make tossing and turning super easy.  Grill them about 15 minutes.

Here's tonight's key component:  grilled tomatillo salsa verde (yep, that's a link to my post with the recipe, click on it).  Instead of boiling the tomatillos, just rub them with a little olive oil and grill them for about 15 minutes until slightly charred and nicely softened.  Toss them whole in the food processor with the onion, serrano or jalapeno pepper, cilantro, garlic and kosher salt and pulse to blend.  It's really yummy with the grilled accent taste.

So here's where we are going with all of this grilling:

close-up of my salad

more of a portrait of my salad :)


Southwest Grilled Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced in tender size pieces
Costco's Sweet Mesquite rub
4 ears sweet corn, husked and silks removed
2 red/yellow/orange peppers, cored and sliced
1 red onion, sliced thin
olive oil
kosher salt
salsa verde
lettuce
avocado, optional
sour cream, optional
lime, optional
barbecue sauce, optional

Toss the chicken with olive oil and the sweet mesquite rub.  Grill 7 minutes and turn once to grill 5-10 minutes more until firm and cooked through.  Rub the corn with a little olive oil and kosher salt.  Grill 10-15 minutes rotating to cook evenly.  Toss the peppers and onions with olive oil and salt and grill in a grill basket or pan 15 minutes or until softened and slightly charred.  Grilled the tomatillos for the salsa you can use store-bought salsa, I won't tell!

Stand the corn in a shallow bowl and run a sharp chef's knife down the cobs to remove the kernels.  Serve all of the ingredients in individual bowls and let everyone make their own salad.  I used everything on my salad.  I love a little sour cream and lime on just about anything.  I love how avocado makes a salad so much heartier and smoother.  I love just a little barbecue sauce tossed in the salad for a bit of sweetness and more smokiness.  The salsa verde is your dressing.  If you're a vegetarian, grill some drained and pressed tofu with the rub or just enjoy the salad with all vegetables and add some black beans.

Well, that feels better.  I missed writing.  I have a lot to say, just not enough time to put it all together.  But I'll sketch some things out and hope to catch up with you all over the next couple of weeks.  It's either going to be radio silence in about a month when my nest empties or I'll be posting frequently as therapy.  Let's hope for lots of yoga and posting along with the job to keep me going.  It's going to be hard, but it's going to be okay.  Namaste.

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