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Salads with Substance

By Andrea Geary Published

A protein-and-vegetable-packed bed of greens is the kind of vibrant, low-effort meal that anyone can appreciate on a scorching summer evening.

big green salad loaded up with precooked proteins; chunks of juicy, tangy fruit; cool, crisp vegetables; and a bright, creamy dressing is just the kind of hearty, low-effort meal that I want to make and eat when it’s too hot to do any real cooking. The prototype that always comes to mind is a chef’s salad, but frankly I could do without the cold cuts and characterless greens. In fact, I knew that with a bit more effort and imagination I could riff on the minimal cooking/maximum sustenance model and come up with all kinds of combinations that were equally substantial but far more dynamic and flavorful.

After a couple weeks’ worth of salads, I had a diverse trio featuring one with cooked chicken, mango, and broccolini drizzled with a spicy peanut dressing; another with hot-smoked salmon done up deli platter–style with hard-cooked eggs, capers, and dill; and finally a meatless combo of pan-seared halloumi, chickpeas, and crunchy pickled cauliflower florets. More important, I also came away with a number of basic salad‑making principles—a blueprint of sorts that helped me identify not just why these particular combinations work well but also how the ingredients I might already have on hand could be put to use in other nutritious, vibrant, flavor-packed salads.

Blueprint for Super Salad

Follow these best practices for combinations that are substantial, nutritious, eye-catching, and full of flavor.

 

Recipe Hearty Green Salad with Spicy Peanut Chicken

A protein-and-vegetable-packed bed of greens is the kind of vibrant, low-effort meal that anyone can appreciate on a scorching summer evening.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.