couscous chicken salad

I made a salad the other night that was, well….how can I say this? It was damn near inedible. Actually, that’s probably too strong a word. It was not good! Thankfully, it was a side dish so the bulk of the meal redeemed my cooking cred.  But I ended up throwing away pretty much ALL of it (which is pathetic and shameful considering we packed meals at our local Feed My Starving Children site today and were reminded that 18,000 kids die every day from hunger related complications).  So, when I even remotely considered using leftover chicken for this salad, I had two thoughts:

1.  My husband will refuse to eat another salad (this time posing as the entree), based on our negative experience only a few days before and I’ll end up wasting more food; and,

2.  My husband will refuse to eat yet another “meal” wrapped in lettuce!

It’s not the manliest of dinners.  It’s got grains and veggies and poultry and fruit.  And it’s not even really wrapped in lettuce (decidedly unmanly Bibb lettuce, of all things), it’s served ON the lettuce; the likes of which you might enjoy at a baby shower or at lunch with your best girlfriend.

The one thing this recipe had going for it, though, was the fact my mom had given it to me.  My mom was a great cook.  She could readily recognize a sub-par recipe by simply scanning the ingredient list.  She always showed up at my house with her carry-on bag stuffed with recipe clippings she’d culled from various newspapers and magazines.  I knew my mom wouldn’t let me down!

This recipe is good.  Really good.  It’s light, delicious, and full of great textures and a huge variety of flavors; tart, crunchy, earthy, tangy, just plain good.   Yes, it’s perfect for a summer lunch with friends, but when you live in the desert, light and delicious salads are just part of the rotation.  My husband did not refuse to eat it.  He ate, gave me a two-thumbs-up, and then he ate some more.  At less than 300 calories per serving, that’s ok.  Dig in and enjoy!!

Couscous Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 C tri-color pearl couscous
  • I Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 C cooked, diced chicken
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large, Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
  • 1 large rib celery, diced
  • Bibb lettuce leaves

Directions:

In saucepan, bring stock to a boil.  Add couscous and butter.  Bring to a boil again, then simmer per package directions (8 to 10 minutes).  Remove from heat, fluff with fork and set aside to cool.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, coriander, mustard, garlic and pepper.  Wisk until well mixed.  In large bowl, combine cooled couscous, chicken, onions, apple and celery.  Add olive oil mixture and toss to coat.  Serve over Bibb lettuce leaves.

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artichoke-parmesan stuffed tilapia

I promise this will be the last tilapia recipe for a while, but tilapia is a blank canvas and we eat it more than any other fish.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact my door-to-door meat guy; the guy who sells me the most amazing shrimp and beef fillets, also shows up on occasion with a case of tilapia – cheap!  They’re always beautiful and fresh tasting, so I can’t resist.  If he showed up with delicious halibut steaks, well, you’d be reading about halibut!

My mom actually came for a visit recently with this recipe tucked in her carry-on bag.  I can’t recall the original source, but any recipe with the word “artichoke” in it is true love, in my book.  I’ve made it a couple of times and both times thought the flavor was really nice, but the texture of the “stuffing” is too dry.  That can probably be chalked up to my own choice of whole grain bread and my unswaying belief grainier is better.  This theory might not be true for this recipe.  I’d suggest going with a whole grain bread that’s a little less hearty and doesn’t stand up nearly so well to the moisture from the artichokes and the cheese.

The finished product (with a little tweaking on the stuffing) is delicious and a great, healthy meal.  Nutritional info on this recipe reported 241 calories, 40 grams of protein, and only 7 grams of fat.  Enjoy!


Artichoke-Parmesan Stuffed Tilapia
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 thin (5-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar water-packed marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of tilapia fillets; set aside.
  • Combine artichokes, bread cubes, Parmesan cheese, and oregano in a medium bowl; mix well.
  • Brush each fillet with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; top with 1/4 of the artichoke mixture.
  • Bake until fish pulls apart easily with a fork (about 15 minutes).
  • Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley just before serving.

tangy apple-cabbage coleslaw

Coleslaw is a classic summer side, and one I don’t care much for when served in the typical drippy, heavy,  mayonnaise-y way.  I liked this recipe for a number of reasons: low cal, no fat, lots of flavor!

The original recipe, found in Cook’s Illustrated Healthy Kitchen, suggested salting the cabbage ahead of time to draw out some of the water that naturally dilutes coleslaw once cabbage is cut and allowed to sit.  This took a bit of the crunch out of the cabbage, but it wasn’t watery.  The cabbage was more the consistency of “pickle-crisp.”

The crunch the cabbage lost in the salting was gained back by the addition of crisp, tart Granny Smith apple slices.  The cider vinegar adds a nice sweet, pungent flavor and, of course, some complimentary heat from the crushed red pepper.

There are so many great flavors going on in this recipe it should please even the most ardent mayo fan.  It might even make a convert out of them.  Note, however, like most dressed salads, this doesn’t keep well.  Eat within a day or two, at most.  Enjoy!

Tangy Apple-Cabbage Coleslaw

Ingredients:

1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored and chopped thin
1 tsp salt
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Toss the cabbage with the salt in a colander and let sit until wilted, about 1 hour.  Rinse the cabbage under cold water, drain, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Toss the dried cabbage, apples, and scallions together in a large bowl to combine.
  • Bring the vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, and red pepper flakes to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until the flavors have blended, about 1 hour.