A Simple, Flavorful Winter Salad

It’s always tough to come back after the holidays. On one hand, you feel well-rested and extra motivated with all the inspirational quotes and resolutions floating around, but on the other, you’re sad the holiday break is over and you can’t help wondering if you’re really going to follow through with as many changes from last year as you hope.

Luckily, I had an easier transition getting “back into the swing of things” – it was a short week with only three days of work and two of them were from home because of the infamous bomb cyclone. I’ll definitely start back with my regular Weekly Meal Plans this coming week, but for now I figured I would share one of the recipes I made from my first week back.

Ok, so it’s a salad…which I know is a cliché for healthy eating after the New Year…but let me tell you, I really am a salad-hater deep down. I’ll eat them as a side, but barely make one as a full meal at home, and even if there’s a really delicious-sounding one on the menu, I will pretty much never order it. Even with protein like meat or beans on it, I never find it fully filling/satisfying, and I just hate feeling like I’m eating the same bite over…and over…and over again.

For using up random ingredients though, salads do take the cake. They make a simple base layer that you can add anything to, in any amount you have left, and they usually come out pretty good. That’s what I did here. I used ingredients I had for other meals that week (I made this faux-comfort food one night) and in the fridge/pantry, and created a simple but filling – and in my opinions, very tasty – salad. You can roast the chicken and broccoli together in the oven, and assemble the rest of the ingredients while it’s cooking so it comes together pretty fast too.

The tangy blue cheese with the sweet peppers, crunch of the almonds and char of the roasted broccoli and cauliflower (which I love to eat on its own anyway) marry well to create an exciting flavor palate. I didn’t put specific amounts for some of the ingredients, because I mainly do it by hand and see what looks like the best ratio in real time, so I encourage you to do the same!

Simple, Flavorful Winter Salad

1 large chicken breast

1 bag pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower (or about a third head of each)

2 large handfuls of arugula, or greens of your choice

Sliced roasted red peppers

Slivered almonds

Blue cheese

Balsamic glaze

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425° and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place broccoli and cauliflower florets on the pan, mix with olive oil and salt and pepper, spread around perimeter of pan. Season the chicken breast with olive oil and salt and pepper too (you can do all of this on the pan itself to save dishes), and place in the middle of the broccoli.  It’s fine if they’re touching. Place it the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the veggies have a nice crisp char and the chicken is cooked through (when the juices run clear). While that’s cooking, assemble your arugula, sliced red peppers, slivered almonds and blue cheese between two bowls, or, like me, between a bowl and plastic container so you have one for dinner and one for lunch tomorrow. When the veggies and chicken are done, let them rest a few moments so you’re not putting piping hot food on greens that will wilt (though arugula will stand up better than other types of lettuce), slice the chicken, and divide everything between your two portions. Top with a few squirts of balsamic glaze, olive oil, and bon appetit!

P.S. – If you’re saving one portion for lunch the next day, don’t add dressing until the morning before work so it doesn’t become soggy.

Makes 2 servings 

To see what I’m eating in the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Twitter @ClaireLeaden!

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