Summer is the best time to experiment with different types of salads, especially in the week after Christmas when everyone is needing a light dinner and a bit of a break from the indulgence.
This salad was a bit of a throw together salad, but definitely one worth jotting down for a quick, easy salad. Most of the preparation can be done earlier in the day, leaving the cooking of the chicken and dressing of the salad for immediately before serving. Being heavily pregnant, while trying to wrangle 2 small children, meals like these are great as I can get dinner pretty much prepared while Claire is sleeping and Mark is having is quiet time, then while they are watching Peppa Pig at 5:40pm, I can throw it altogether and have dinner on the table before 6pm.
The leaves I have used are kale and spinach (out of the garden) and some bought salad mix. When adding kale to a salad, the key is to give it a wash and massage it. The massaging helps to soften the leaf as well as decreasing the bitterness.
Zucchini and corn can be added in raw, but by popping them in a frypan and lightly grilling them, it allows a fantastic caramelisation to be added to the salad with very little extra time taken. I have used golden beetroot today, but either purple or golden will work well.
If you haven’t tried freekeh before, I highly recommend it. It is a wheat grain that is made from roasting green grains. As they are harvested while they are still green, they contain more protein, vitamins and minerals than the same mature grain. Freekeh is naturally a low GI, high fibre grain and is a good source of probiotics (food for the good bacteria in the gut). You can buy cracked and uncracked freekeh, I recommend the cracked freekeh as its less chewy and takes less time to cook.
The dressing on this salad is very simple and brings the whole dish together. The addition of the chicken completes the meal and adds a good quality protein source, although the salad could be made to accompany a fillet of fish or with some chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
As far as the kids went with this one….they are tired, having spent 5 days at the grandparents over Christmas, with not enough sleep, dinner tonight was a struggle. They both said they didn’t like it before they even tried it and complained, wanted toast, but we persevered and they both ate about 75% of their meals, so obviously didn’t hate it that much!
Serves 4 as a main
- 1/2 cup cracked freekeh, rinsed
- 1 chicken breast, cut into strips
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks and grilled
- 2 medium beetroot
- 1 cob of corn, kernels removed and grilled
- 1/2 punnet cherry, tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups mixed lettuce leaves (kale, spinach, rocket, lettuce, etc)
- 2 handfuls basil leaves, roughly torn
- 80g feta, crumbled
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 2 tbs pine nuts, toasted
- 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- Salt and pepper
- To cook the freekeh, place into a medium sized saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat once boiling. Cook for ~25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Cook the beetroot by placing the beetroot into a saucepan and covering with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender when a knife is inserted, ~45 minutes. Drain and run under cold water, rubbing the skin off. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, dice.
- Cook the zucchini by heating a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and place zucchini sticks into the pan and cook, turning occasionally until lightly golden. Remove from pan.
- In the same pan, cook the corn kernels, stirring occasionally, until they start to change colour, ~3-4 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Cook the chicken breast by heating a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a jar and shake well to combine.
- To assemble the salad, place the green leaves into a bowl, along with the torn basil, freekeh, beetroot, zucchini, corn, cherry tomatoes, onion, feta and toasted pine nuts and gently toss to combine. Top with the dressing and the grilled chicken and toss well to combine.