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Asparagus Mango Salad

This week I am motivated by Diane Eblin’s Friday Foodie Fix (The W.H.O.L.E. Gang) challenge. The secret ingredient is asparagus.

Asparagus is practically a staple in our house but it’s not usually prepared in a way that hasn’t been done a million times in thousands of kitchens across the country. We eat asparagus in risotto and roasted with oil, salt, and pepper. And, easy, easy, easy, steamed or grilled and drizzled with Italian dressing.

So, it seemed like a good time to be more creative. I needed to be inspired and that called for a roadtrip to Whole Foods. OK, I didn’t really need much of an excuse to go to Whole Foods. The whole way there and back I prepared asparagus dishes in my mind. (I am a master of mental cooking — some people have a soundtrack in their minds. I have a foodtrack.)

I came up with Asparagus Mango Salad and an appetizer — Roasted & Wrapped Asparagus. I haven’t made the second one yet. Tomorrow is another day.

I really wanted a recipe that would be easy, look great, and provide flavors complementary to the unique flavor of the asparagus. So, something bright and sweet — mango! Add the zing and beauty of the red onion. Finally, top it with the smoky saltiness of bacon. And, here it is… 

Asparagus Mango Salad

1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ fresh ripe mango, diced
2 slices red onion, diced
3 slices cooked GF bacon, chopped
Lemon Balsamic Dressing
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Rinse and trim the asparagus. Place the spears one layer thick on the cookie sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes until tender. Remove and cool.

Cut the cooled asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Add the diced mango, red onion, and cooked bacon pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. Dress with a few tablespoons of Lemon Balsamic Dressing.

Serves 4 (or 2 hungry) people.

Note: I used Boar’s Head Fully Cooked Bacon — gluten free.



Chicken Salad with Chia Seeds

I frequently eat salad for lunch and occasionally for dinner. You know, the lettuce kind of salad. There are so many varieties of greens and add-ins that no two ever need to be alike. Salads are really a life saver if you have to live with food sensitivities and restrictions. Most restaurants — no matter how large or small or expensive or inexpensive — have salads. Some are better and more satisfying than others but you can always get something green and fresh to eat when you’re hungry.

But, to be truthful, a person can only eat so much lettuce.

So, one day when I couldn’t eat another green salad and wanted to incorporate my newly found super food — chia — into something other than orange juice I made a version of classic chicken salad. It looks good, it tastes good and it hits the spot. Tell me what you think.

Chicken Salad with Chia Seeds

2 chicken breasts, cooked
10 grapes, yellow or red seedless
1 stalk celery, diced
3 tablespoons radicchio, chopped
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 teaspoons chia seeds
salt and pepper
Creamy Lemon Aioli

Chop the chicken into 1 inch cubes. (I use antibiotic-free, hormone-free roasted chicken from my local grocery store.)

Cut up the remaining ingredients - quarter the grapes, small dice the celery, chop the walnuts and radicchio. Add the diced ingredients and dried cranberries to the chopped chicken.

Add salt and pepper to taste and mix all with the Creamy Lemon Aioli - recipe here. (It can be chilled at this point until ready to serve.)

Sprinkle with the chia seeds just before serving.

Tips: This would work well with a variety of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Fruits: pineapple, apple or pear. Nuts and seeds: pecans, sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Vegetables: endive.

To make this vegan substitute tofu for the chicken.