Hello, everyone! I’m back in California, having just returned from the Contemporary Performance Studies program at the Vancouver International Song Institute. The week-long program consisted of back-to-back coachings, masterclasses, lectures, and a final concert, all focused on art songs from the 20th and 21st century. Highlights included lots of focused but giggly practice sessions with my pianist partner, being twirled around the UBC recital hall stage by none other than Jake Heggie, and being exposed to tons of great new repertoire. I’ve returned to the Bay Area refreshed, inspired, and excited to perform more contemporary classical music . . .
. . . and also in need of a big ol’ salad or two. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are lots of great salads in Canada, but I didn’t manage to eat a single one while I was there, nor did I cook a single meal during my nine day stay in the Great North. My wonderful host served me yogurt and berries in the mornings, and then I’d run off the UBC for 12-hour days of intense programming, arriving back home after dark. My diet consisted almost entirely of meals purchased from the Student Union Building’s downstairs cafeteria. After a week of grab-and-go sandwiches, sushi, and bananas, I could not wait to get back into the kitchen.
Inspired by a hearty chopped salad at my friend Emma’s last dinner party (look for her recipe on TheKitchn next week!), I decided to make one of my own. I threw in some leftover cooked chicken breast and quinoa to add lots of protein — it’s filling enough to be a one-dish meal, but still bright and summery with the addition of a chopped nectarine, one of my favorite summer stone fruits. Ribbons of tender red lettuce, cubes of crunchy celery, and a handful of fresh cilantro round things out, and all of the ingredients are gently tossed in kicky and sweet Honey Lemon Vinaigrette. Serve this salad at a luncheon or potluck, or pack it along for an easy picnic dish.
Chopped Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (printer-friendly version)
1/2 C. quinoa
3/4 C. water
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. clover honey
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 head red leaf lettuce, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
3 ribs celery, diced small
1 nectarine, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 C. cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cooked chicken breast halves (1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1. Combine quinoa and water in a small (1-quart) saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn down to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off and let sit for another 5 minutes.
2. While the quinoa is simmering, make the vinaigrette: In an 8-ounce jar or small tupperware, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, pepper, and salt. Shake to mix until the honey is thoroughly blended into the other ingredients.
2. Spoon the cooked quinoa into a large bowl, and let cool for a few minutes. Add the lettuce, celery, nectarine, cilantro, and cooked chicken. Pour in the vinaigrette, then toss gently to thoroughly coat all of the ingredients evenly.