Friday, June 29, 2012

A Taste of Sunshine

Peanut butter and jelly ... peaches and cream ... salads and summer. They just seem to go together - especially on a week with multiple days showing 100-degrees plus.

For a women's group meeting, I tried a salad I found on Our Best Bites, a cooking blog. They were trying to duplicate a summer salad served at Chili's Restaurants.

I make salads pretty much every day, but I rarely make homemade salad dressing. I usually use Kraft's Light Done Right raspberry vinaigrette on fruit and lettuce-based salads (and I recommend it).

But since this was a special occasion, I tried the homemade dressing. It was a hit with the ladies and when I served the leftovers here at home. The orange juice is like a little taste of sunshine. Enjoy!

Caribbean Salad with Sweet Orange Vinaigrette
adapted from Our Best Bites blog
1 large bunch romaine lettuce, torn
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled
8-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced or sliced
4 to 5 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or fresh parsley)
6-8 tbsp. dried cherries or cranberries
Optional: Fresh pineapple or other fresh fruits, as desired, or in season

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 of a large navel orange)
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup canola oil

To prepare dressing, combine orange juice, vinegar, dry mustard, sugar, and salt in the jar of a blender. Blend until sugar is dissolved. With blender running on low, slowly drizzle in oil, mixing until just combined. Store dressing in refrigerator until ready to use. Can prepare a day or two in advance.

To prepare salads, divide lettuce between four plates. Top with grilled chicken, chopped fruits and veggies. Sprinkle with dried cherries or cranberries. Drizzle with dressing. Serves 4 main dish salads or 6-8 side salads.