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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.



Roasted Escarole

My mother made escarole soup for us when we were kids. If my memory serves me right it was escarole and beans in a chicken soup base. And, she would throw in a small piece of pepperoni to give it some spice. Pretty simple and very delicious.

She didn’t use escarole in any other dishes - just the soup. So, when my sister, niece and I had dinner in a small (very good) Italian restaurant at the Jersey shore and saw roasted escarole on the menu we jumped on it. Mmm, it was so good. The chef baked it in the oven with a bread crumb topping. I think each serving was half a head of escarole. It was delicious.

I tried several times to replicate it and think I’ve finally done it. Here it is just the way I remember it.

Roasted Escarole

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head escarole
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper
1/4 cup italian seasoned breadcrumbs (gluten free)
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese (sheep’s milk)
1/4 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350℉.

Meanwhile, pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet and warm over a medium high heat. Cut the escarole in half or quarters. Gently wash under cool water and then shake out as much of the water as possible. Finish drying by wrapping in a clean dishcloth and patting gently.

Crush the garlic and put into the pan with the olive oil. Stir briefly and add the escarole, cut side down. After about a minute or two, or when the cut side is slightly wilted, turn the escarole over to cook the other side.

While the second side is cooking salt and pepper the top of the escarole and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Turn the heat off. Gently pour the chicken broth (being careful of sputtering) around the outside — not over — the escarole halves.

Put the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the escarole is sufficiently wilted and the breadcrumbs look light brown and crunchy.

Serve immediately.

If you don’t have seasoned breadcrumbs you can add some dried parsley, oregano, garlic and onion salt, and pepper to plain breadcrumbs.

I’m sure this would be good with other greens, too — romaine, for example.

To make this dairy-free and vegan omit the cheese.

Click to see how I make my gf breadcrumbs.