Welcome to the very first Mediterranean Monday post of 2019! I’m so excited for this new year full of potential and opportunities! If you read my post last week about How to Go Mediterranean, then you know that I have my fridge and pantry stocked and ready at all times to throw together some fun salad varieties! I’ve been on a bit of a salad binge here lately after finding some creative new ideas in a couple of cookbooks I have at home on my counter.
One is a vegetarian cookbook I picked up a few years ago and has been hiding out in my basement storage since my move. I’d forgotten all about it until I was getting out Christmas decorations a few weeks back and stumbled across it. I also scored a bargain book at Barnes and Noble over the holiday shopping season – a cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens filled with lots of enticing ideas. Between the two of them I’ve tried a few salads, and then got inspired to throw together some of my own using ingredients I wouldn’t have thought to put into a salad before finding those recipes, such as green apples and lentils.
One thing about me is that I find it so difficult to follow a recipe. Almost always, I use recipes as sort of a starting-off point, then tweak it to make it something that is just right for me using ingredients I have on hand. That’s what I’ve done with each of these salads!
This first salad I took for lunch on my second day back to work for the new year. I did a grocery run the night before and picked up some chicken and salad greens, so I made grilled chicken salads for the boys and me that night. Since my kiddos are not quite so adventurous, I kept those salads basic. But when I put together my lunch for the next day, I got much more creative.
In this salad I have one chopped chicken tenderloin (roughly 2-3 ounces), toasted walnuts, a bit of crumbled goat cheese, whole cranberries, and some sliced mushrooms and mini bell peppers. For all of my salads I use salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.
- 1 cup organic baby spinach and arugula mix from Aldi
- 1 cup various artisan lettuces from Aldi, torn
- 1-2 large green lettuce leaves, torn
- 2-3 ounce chicken breast tenderloin
- 1/8 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup raw cranberries
- 1 mini sweet pepper, sliced
- 1 crimini mushroom, sliced
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- The first three ingredients make up the base for all of my salads. I tear up any larger lettuce leaves, then toss all of it into a colander for a good wash. I dry the lettuce, then place it in a large glass storage container.
- Next I sliced up the mushrooms and mini bell pepper and layered them on top of the salad.
- I topped this with the chicken, which I cut up into bite-size pieces.
- I topped it off with the goat cheese crumbles, cranberries and toasted walnuts, then put the lid on and placed it in the fridge for morning.
- In a small 1/2 cup container, I poured together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then placed that in the fridge on top of the salad container to grab and go in the morning. At lunch I sprinkled with salt and pepper, poured on the oil and vinegar, and dug in!
For this salad, I was out of chicken because the boys and I used the rest of it for dinner the second night. I had some cooked lentils left from a salad the weekend before, which paired beets, lentils and pomegranates–delish! I was all out of beets and pomegranates, so I made some swaps. For this salad I used lentils, cranberries (I really needed to get these used up!) and green apples. No cheese since I just had cheese the day before, and I used pepitas for a little extra protein and crunch!
- Same salad green mix from above
- 1/4 cup cooked lentils
- 1/4 cup raw cranberries
- 1/4 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple
- 1/8 cup pepitas, or pumpkin seeds if you prefer
- 1/2 fresh lemon for juicing
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1-2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Place salad greens in a large glass container as above.
- Spread lentils evenly across greens, followed by cranberries and chopped apples, then top with pepitas. Place lid on container and put in the fridge.
- Once again mix oil and vinegar in a small container and place in fridge. I also went ahead and cut a lemon in half and stored it with the other containers so I could grab and go in the morning.
- At lunch, sprinkle salt and pepper on the salad, pour on the oil and vinegar, and finish off by squeezing fresh lemon juice on top. Protein, fruits and veggies all in one dish!
This salad I actually took for lunch today. It’s getting close to grocery shopping time at my house, but I still had plenty of ingredients to work with! I did this one more like a traditional chef’s salad, with a vegetarian spin. Instead of meat, I used garbanzo beans and a boiled egg (which of course can be left off if you’re vegetarian or vegan). I had a block of sharp cheddar cheese in the fridge so that had to go in. And then the more traditional salad veggies–carrots, peppers, mushrooms, etc., and rye bread croutons I made from a locally-made bread loaf. Some cherry tomatoes would also be amazing on this salad, but I’m all out right now!
- Salad greens mix
- 1/2 cup garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 hard-boiled egg, cut in half or into slices
- 1 mini bell pepper
- 1 crimini mushroom
- 1/4 carrot, sliced or grated
- 3-4 broccoli florets, chopped small
- 1/2 ounce shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/8 small slice rye bread
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1-2 TBS balsamic or red wine vinegar
- Start by toasting the slice of bread in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, then let sit out in the air dry out for a good 1-2 hours
- In the bottom of your glass bowl, place your salad greens.
- Top the greens with the garbanzo beans and the egg
- On top of this goes all of your chopped veggies, and a sprinkling of cheese
- Cut the rye toast into cubes, and go ahead and place in lunch bag for the next day. You don’t want to add this to the salad in the fridge overnight, or it will get soggy.
- Measure out your oil and vinegar in a small container, and place in the fridge with salad. Grab and go in the morning on your way out the door.
- When you’re ready to eat, sprinkle on salt and pepper, pour on your dressing, then top with croutons and enjoy!
I have to take a moment here to share with you what a week-long salad binge has done for me. I had a doctor visit this morning where my blood pressure was checked, and the result was 102/70. At first I was a little worried. I was like, “102, is that bad?! It’s so low!” The nurse said no, that’s great! I’m telling you that is the lowest my blood pressure has been in 15 years! So eat those salads and healthy proteins, friends. They really do a body good!