THE Salad

The first summer we lived in TN, we invited a couple of students over for dinner to get to know them better.  I put this salad together, and it was dubbed “THE Salad”.

According to R, THE Salad tasted like summer.  Every time R comes home from college, we intend to have dinner and make THE Salad again, but it has yet to happen.  I will forever remember our evening spent talking and laughing around the table while enjoying THE Salad.

the salad 1

THE Salad

Greens & Veggies:
Enough for 4 servings
2 c chopped Romaine lettuce
2 c chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 to 3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 c match-stick carrots
I add tomatoes seperately, husband doesn’t like ’em.

The stuff that makes it THE Salad:
shake & bake chicken  – 3 chicken breasts were enough for 4 servings
fresh sliced strawberries
fresh cubed buffalo mozzarella
pecan halves – toasted or candied
homemade croutons
Poppyseed dressing

the salad 2

For the croutons:  I had some cubed focaccia bread in the freezer to make breadcrumbs or croutons out of.  I tossed them in a couple splashes of olive oil and toasted them in a 400 degree oven for 10 min.

Chinatown Chicken Salad

I am a sucker for bargain books.  Send me to Barnes & Noble with a $20 gift card, and it’ll take me a couple hours to decide which new books to claim as my own.  A couple of weeks ago, I picked up Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson for nine bucks!  The next day was a lazy rainy Saturday and I got to spend a few hours reading through all her tips and amazing recipes.  Here’s the first one I tried.

This recipe is from Nigella Kitchen.

A few omissions made, noted below.

chinatown chicken salad 4

Chinatown Chicken Salad

2 oz (about 12) wonton wrappers (or handful of tortilla chips)
vegetable oil (for frying wontons) – I used peanut oil

If you’re using the wonton wrappers, begin by heating about 1/2 in oil in a frying pan.

Once the oil is hot, peel off the papery wrappers from the pack and add them, in batches of 3-4 at a time, to the pan.  Be careful, they need just a few seconds a side to turn golden and will continue to darken as you remove them to a cookie sheet lined with some paper towels.

Continue cooking the wonton wrappers in batches until you have a baking sheet full of crisp golden squares.  Let cool a little, while you get on with the salad they are to adorn.

chinatown chicken salad 2

Salad Dressing
1 red or green chili, seeded and finely chopped – I used a jalapeno
2 tsp fresh gingerroot
4 tsp lime juice or rice vinegar – I used lime juice
3 tblsp soy sauce
splash sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar

Mix the dressing ingredients in a jug or screw top jar, stirring together or shaking, to mix.

chinatown chicken salad 1

1/2 c salted peanuts (chopped if desired)
1 head iceburg lettuce, shredded
1 1/2 c (6 oz) bean sprouts – the supermarket was out of sprouts 😦
4 scallions, cut into thirds and julienned
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut inot fine strips
4 c shredded chicken
handful fresh chopped cilantro, for serving – I left this out

In a large bowl, toss together the peanuts, lettuce, bean sprouts, scallions, red bell pepper and shredded cold chicken.

Add half the cooled wonton wrappers or tortilla chips (if using), breaking them into pieces into the bowl, then dress the salad, tossing again to mix before adding the other half of the crispy wonton wrappers and the chopped cilantro, sprinkling both on top.  Serve at once.

chinatown chicken salad 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a restaurant style salad, so good.  Because it was just the two of us, I dressed the salads as I served them.  In the future, I’d also wait to stir in the peanuts and wonton wrappers so any leftovers wouldn’t get soggy.  And this dressing is good enough to make and just keep on hand all the time.

Brannon’s Caesar Sald

bread&wine_cover_artI can’t remember how I stumbled upon Shauna’s first book, Cold Tangerines, but after my first read through I was hooked.  A woman writing openly and honestly about her delights and struggles in life.  I read her heart.  I read her joys.  I read her tears.  And in doing so, I felt like her friend.

Bread & Wine is a celebration of gathering around the table with our friends and family.  Whether for an impromptu birthday party, non-traditional holiday celebrations, or just to share a favorite cookie with our best friend.  Shauna challenged me to think on why I want to have friends and family around my own table, and the atmosphere I give them to live in while in my home.

Bread & Wine will be released on April 9th, but is available for pre-order now at

But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition.  It’s an act of love, if you let it be that.  You can twist it and turn it into anything you want – a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval.  Or you can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving.  You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving.  You can decide. – Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine


Brannon’s Caesar Salad

This is not a conventional Caesar salad dressing – it doesn’t call for eggs or anchovies, which makes it a great choice for pregnant women and non-anchovy lovers.  It’s bright and flavorful and a touch spicy, and we ask Brannon to make it at every possible opportunity.  This salad provides the perfect occasion to use up frozen bread cubes, and because romaine is hearty and the croutons are homemade and crusty, it’s a great option for picnics or open houses. – Bread & Wine

caesar 2

2 hearts of romaine, washed and dried and torn into bite-size pieces
2 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese

1 garlic clove – I used the minced garlic from Trader Joes
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
A few dashes of Tabasco, to taste
Juice of half a lemon
1 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp sugar

Chop garlic clove in a food processor, then add remaining ingredients and blend together.  Or chop a garlic clove, drop it into the bottom of an old pickle jar or jelly jar, add everything else, and shake like crazy.

4 c bread cubes
1 tblsp oilive oil
1 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and then toss the frozen bread cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and grated Parm.  Bake until crispy and golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Toss the romaine lettuce with croutons, grated Parm and dressing.

caesar 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Husband is a BIG fan of a caesar salad, so this was a no brainer to try.  I loved the ease of throwing together my own croutons and the light spicy taste of the dressing was perfect.


shauna1Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.