When it’s hot, I barely want to eat, let alone heat up the house cooking something. So we’ve been on a salad kick lately. One drawback to having salads is the cost quickly adds up. Here are some tips to help you save some green while buying your greens.
Bag the bagged salads. Read the ingredients for inspiration, then put it back on the shelf, because they cost more and go bad quickly. Skip the convenience if you want to save a buck. Buy the three pack hearts of romaine and chop them yourself. It’s easy and takes mere seconds. One heart makes two or three nice salads. Next, add the goodies they put in the prepared salads yourself.
Leave the lettuce. Even better than romaine, select heartier greens like cabbage and kale. They keep longer, have more flavor, more health benefits and are usually cheaper. Bonus, if they start to wilt, you can saute them.
Save on proteins. While salmon and steak make lovely salads, use chicken, beans, boiled eggs, lentils, nuts and canned fish to pack protein onto your greens.
Dress yourself. If you have delicious homemade dressings in your fridge, your chances of making a salad increase exponentially. Vinaigrettes can be as simple as three parts oil to one part vinegar. Add flavorings like mustard, herbs and spices, and experiment to your heart’s content.
The recipe below is a summertime favorite. The dressing doubles as marinade for chicken. And if you grill the chicken outdoors, you get the down-home aroma of smoke without heating up your home.
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN SALAD
Yield: 4 generous servings
Time: 1 hour plus marinating time
1/2 cup honey mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken — thighs, boneless skinless
½ cup bacon, about 4 strips, diced
2 boiled eggs, sliced
6-8 cups romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
½ cup corn kernels
¼ cup red onion, diced
- Whisk marinade ingredients together. Divide in half, reserving half in the fridge to dress the salad. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and refrigerate. Marinate chicken for two hours, or better, overnight.
- The chicken can be grilled, sauteed on the stovetop or oven baked.
- To grill, preheat to medium-high heat and grill for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side or until your thermometer registers 160 degrees.
- To saute, heat a pan or skillet over medium heat with a little oil and cook in batches, until cooked through.
- To bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
- While the chicken cooks, saute the bacon and hard boil the eggs.
- In preparation for the salad, slice chicken into strips and prepare the lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, corn and onion. Crumble the bacon and slice the eggs.
- Whisk 1 tablespoon of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. It’s potent, so add to taste. Arrange salad artistically or just plop it all in a big bowl and have at it.
One last tip: To keep salad fresh, crisp and delicious, don’t dress it until you’re ready to eat. The acid in dressings breaks down cell walls, making floppy, sad salad.
The part I enjoy most about a salad kick is coming up with different combinations of dressings and ingredients. I hope this inspires you to think outside the bag for your next salad.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org
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