Month: May 2014

lunchbox life: roasted broccoli salad


Happy last 2013-14 lunchbox life!  This section of the blog will be on hiatus until July (yes, we start school in late July), but this week’s lunch is so exciting that you could make it anytime, with or without a lunchbox.

Many of us have had broccoli salad before.  It’s usually mayonnaise-based with raw broccoli, golden raisins, chopped apples, and maybe some almonds.  It’s a great summer side dish for barbecue gatherings and cookouts.  A few weeks ago, I was at Fette Sau in Philadelphia, a much-cooler-than-me BBQ place in a hipster area of town, and I ordered broccoli salad as one of my sides, mostly out of curiosity.  I was so surprised with what they handed me as I went down the cafeteria-style line: this bowl of large pieces of cooled, roasted broccoli with a vinaigrette sauce.  What a great way to switch up the old stand by!  If you’ve ever roasted broccoli, you know that it completely changes the texture and taste of the cruciferous vegetable–the crunch remains, but it muted, and the taste is mellowed, yet deep.  Ever since my inspiration at Fette Sau, I’ve wanted to try my hand at an inspired dish.  Since I’m using the idea as a main dish, I’ve added a few ingredients to kick it up a notch: equal parts broccoli and cauliflower for color contrast, crispy bacon, soft goat cheese, tart dried cherries, crunchy cashews, and bright lemon zest.  I dressed the salad with my usual honey dijon vinaigrette and placed it on a bed of greens for volume.

Roasted Broccoli Salad

1 crown of broccoli

1 crown of cauliflower

1 Tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

5 slices of bacon

4 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup cashews, chopped

zest of two lemons

5 cups of salad greens

For the dressing:

1.5 Tbsp. olive oil

juice of two lemons

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. honey

salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 400 F.  Give the broccoli and cauliflower a rough chop–you want the pieces to be between about 2 to 3 inches in length.  Place the broccoli and cauliflower in a mixing bowl and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper is what I used), then mix to coat.  Spread the broccoli and cauliflower and an even layer on a cookie sheet, then roast for 15 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, take the vegetables out and flip them over, then roast for another 15 minutes.  When the 30 minutes are up, place the roasted vegetables in a mixing bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.  While the veggies are roasting, fry the pieces of bacon in a large frying pan to a crisp, then remove the bacon and place on a paper towel and let cool to room temperature.  When these items are cool enough, crumble the bacon over the broccoli and cauliflower, then add the goat cheese, dried cherries, and cashews.  Toss to combine.   In a small jar, combine the dressing ingredients, place the cap on tightly, shake to combine, then pour over the salad and toss to combine.  Serve the broccoli salad as a stand alone dish or on a bed of greens.

WW info: 9 PP per serving (5 servings in this recipe)



lunchbox life: strawberry, basil, smoked almond, and gorgonzola salad with chicken


There is a small window of time every late spring in which strawberries are at their peak: red, delicate, juicy morsels of seedy goodness.  I always forget how absolutely delicious they are until I have one this time of year, and then I get sad, because every grocery store strawberry pales in comparison.  The hard, mostly greenish-pinkish-white globs that look like strawberries are a completely different product than a fresh-off-the-plant, ruby red strawberry.  Our CSA left us a quart of strawberries on Saturday, and after eating one (ok, a few), I knew that I had to incorporate them into lunches this week.

The salad greens and strawberries this week came from our beloved CSA, The Dirt Farmers.  I added some diced chicken for protein, chopped smoked almonds for depth of flavor and saltiness, gorgonzola for tang, and basil for freshness.  I’ve packed a simple balsamic vinaigrette to dress my salad on site.  It looks and tastes like summer!

WW info: 9 PP with dressing; recipe yields five servings

Strawberry, Basil, Smoked Almond, and Gorgonzola Salad with Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cooked to your liking and diced

1 cup sliced strawberries

2 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup smoked almonds, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade sliced

6 to 8 cups salad mix

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste

Assemble each bowl or container with an even amount of salad mix.  Evenly distribute the strawberries, cheese, chicken, almonds, and basil in each of the containers.  In a separate container or jar, shake the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper together.  Dress salad with dressing right before eating.


lunchbox life: greek chicken with tomato, cucumber, and feta salad



With only three Mondays left with students (yayyy!), lunchbox life is winding down year two and I am winding down year three of teaching.  This week’s lunches are a siren call to summer.  There is something about a tomato and cucumber salad that calls for a sunny day and warmer temperatures.  The salad is accompanied by some Greek-seasoned chicken breast, a dollop of hummus, some kalamata olives, all on a bed of spinach.

Greek Chicken for Salad

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into cubes

1.5 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lemon, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan to medium heat.  Add the lemon slices, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper and let the flavors simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken, salt, and pepper and allow the chicken to cook through (about 6-10 minutes).  Set aside and let cool.

Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad

8 Campari tomatoes (you could also use plum or cherry tomatoes)

1 English (seedless) cucumber (this is the one that is long, skinny, and wrapped in shrink wrap at the grocery store)

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Quarter the tomatoes, then remove the juice and seeds.  Dice the tomatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl.  Slice the seedless cucumber, then dice the slices into small squares; place the  cucumber pieces in the bowl.  Add the feta, parsley, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to the bowl and mix to combine.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.

WW info: 10 points for 1 cup baby spinach, 2 Tbsp. hummus, 1/2 cup tomato and cucumber salad, 1/3 cup chicken, and about 8 olives.