Herb Chicken with White Bean Salad

With the help of good quality canned white beans, this meal can be whipped up in minutes. If you want to make the salad in advance, leave out the oil, vinegar and lemon juice until just prior to serving. The chicken can also be made in advance, by this method or on a grill, and served cold. With sliced cucumbers and a bottle of white wine, it makes a perfect summer picnic.

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Tuscan Bread Salad

2 cups day old french or sourdough bread, cubed
½ pound ricotta salata cheese or feta cheese, cut in chunks
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, if desired; halved and thinly sliced
1 red onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine bread, cheese, vegetables and herbs in a large mixing bowl.

Place garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl and mix well. Drizzle over vegetables.

Greek Salad Revived

Depending on what you serve with this and how hungry you are, this salad will serve 2- 4 people. For two hungry people who don’t want to heat up a kitchen and don’t want to make anything else, add pita bread and this salad will satisfy. For a slightly more demanding crowd, the addition of soup will round this out nicely. If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can simply omit it.

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Spicy Peanut Noodle with Broccoli

1 pound rotini, cooked al dente and cooled under cold water
1 bunch scallions, cut diagonally into one inch pieces
1 small head broccoli, woody end discarded, florets separated, stem peeled and julienned
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

For the spicy peanut dressing:
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 egg, room temperature
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (no salt, no sugar, no preservatives)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Oriental sesame oil

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add pasta and cook until completely tender. Drain immediately and rinse several times with cold water. Transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, make the spicy peanut dressing.
Place garlic and ginger in a blender or in a food processor fitted with a steel blade; process until the garlic is chopped. Add red pepper, chili powder, mustard, egg, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and water and process until combined. Gradually add oils. Pour dressing over cooled pasta.

Place broccoli in colander and rinse with hottest water possible. Rinse and refresh with cold water.

Add broccoli, scallions, pepper and sesame seeds just prior to serving.

Serves 8

Cobb Salad

Packed full of protein and fat, Cobb Salad seems to be me the perfect fare for anyone on a low-carbohydrate diet. In 1936, so the story goes, Bob Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles, went into the restaurant’s kitchen and put whatever intrigued him into a salad. He served it to some friends, who later came back looking to have it replicated.

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Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad

Before I started writing cookbooks I owned From the Night Kitchen, a take-out shop in Brookline Village, Massachusetts. One couple used to come in every time they were going to take a trip (and they traveled a lot). They would have me pack a lunch for the plane that always included this salad. I always think of them when I fly and when I make this salad. They would certainly have agreed with Wolfgang Puck, chef and restaurateur, who said, “To me, an airplane is a great place to diet.” Unless, of course, you bring your own lunch.

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Thousand Island/Russian Dressing

For me, Thousand Island and Russian dressings are interchangeable, as they have as their chief components both mayonnaise and chili sauce. The name “Russian dressing” is really a misnomer because it’s come to be as American as apple pie. One rumor has it that the name derives from the fact that it originally had Russian caviar in it. Today, horseradish or hot dog relish often gives the dressing its texture.

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Blue Cheese Dressing

Thick and creamy, this can be used as a dip for crudités or Boston Trio chicken as well as a dressing on any green salad. A slightly updated but classic combo for this dressing is a wedge of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with bacon, avocado, and cherry or grape tomatoes. Another impressive salad combination is romaine lettuce with pears and lightly toasted walnuts. Burgers and roast beef sandwiches also benefit from this tangy combination, as do steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

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Green Goddess Dressing

Legend has it that Green Goddess dressing was created in the 1920s by the chef at the San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in honor of actor George Arliss, who was appearing in a play called Green Goddess. It is said that he requested that a dressing be named after him, but why this particular combination became Green Goddess is a mystery to me.

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Caesar Salad Dressing

While this is the traditional dressing for a classic Caesar Salad – whole or chopped romaine lettuce, lots of Parmesan cheese (optional in the dressing but not in the salad itself), and croutons – you can use it as an all-purpose salad dressing. Additionally, you can substitute feta cheese for the Parmesan, and for a main course, add cooked chicken, shrimp, or steak.

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Pesto Dressing

When my friend Nancy served this dressing on a simple green salad for family and friends, everyone loved it but no one could guess what was in it. Pal Urit Chaimovitz guess artichoke hearts and husband Steve said honey. But it was 7-year-old Joey who put his nose toward the salad and correctly guessed pesto. While it’s great on any combination of mixed greens, it’s also perfect drizzled on tomatoes and goat cheese; chilled new potatoes; cold noodles with julienned vegetables; and pasta with halved grape or cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.

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Curried Dressing

Although this dressing is high flavored, it complements many different flavors. It’s especially good on a salad of bunch spinach, apples or pears, sesame seeds, and raisins or craisins, or on romaine with cheddar cheese, apples, and walnuts. It can also be used as a marinade for chicken or a drizzle for grilled salmon.

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Lemon Pepper Dressing

This tart and lively dressing can be used on salads and steamed vegetables (especially artichokes and broccoli), and drizzled on grilled chicken, salmon, or swordfish. Pepper lovers might want to increase the amount of one or both of the peppers (keeping in mind that the heat of the peppers strengthens as they sit). And of course, the pepper can be decreased or simply eliminated.

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