SIZZLE SIMMER SAUTÉ–Big salads: hearty summer meal

Jennifer Alexander Ruple

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 From lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, to onions, peppers and beets, area farmers markets are brimming with bright and colorful veggies! What better time of year is there to take advantage of all this homegrown goodness than summertime?
Entrée salads are the perfect excuse to pile on the produce and leave the oven in the off position. The following three big salads do require some chopping, slicing and dicing, but very little stove or grill time.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
I have included the option to add anywhere from 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey. I prefer the dressing a bit sweeter with this salad as it offsets the tartness of the feta cheese.
4 servings

8 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 quart strawberries, halved
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons pure raw honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard in a bowl, add vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and mustard and whisk to combine.
While whisking the dressing, pour the olive oil into the dressing in a slow stream. Continue whisking until combined.
Drizzle over salad, toss and enjoy!

Beefy Green Chile Taco Salad with Creamy Salsa Dressing
Just like tacos but with more veg! My version of a classic taco salad provides a little kick with the addition of diced green chiles. Don’t fear the heat though because the creamy salsa dressing will cool things down a bit.
4 servings

½ cup of your favorite salsa
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Green Chile Taco Beef
1 pound ground round
4-ounce can green chiles (I prefer medium)
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup water

8-ounce mix of romaine and red and green leaf lettuces
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, cubed
15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ red onion, diced
4-ounce can sliced black olives

To prepare the dressing, stir ingredients together in a small bowl. Keep chilled in the refrigerator until it is time to serve.
In a sauté pan, break up ground round into crumbles and cook until no longer pink. Drain and return to pan. Add green chiles, spices and water. Simmer for a few minutes and keep warm.
In a large serving bowl, add lettuce mixture. Arrange toppings, including beef, as desired.
Serve with dressing on the side.

Michigan Cherry and Balsamic Chicken Salad
Juicy marinated grilled chicken sits on top of freshly picked farmers market lettuce and sweet-tart cherries. Tip: make extra of this tangy chicken and enjoy it for another meal.
4 servings

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. Pour over chicken breasts and marinate for a minimum of two hours. Grill chicken until no longer pink inside. Allow to cool slightly and slice.

8-ounce mix of romaine and red and green leaf lettuces
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 pound cherries, pitted and halved
¼ cup sliced almonds
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic glaze

In a large serving bowl, arrange lettuce mixture. Layer red onion, blue cheese, cherries and almonds. Top with cooked chicken slices. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

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