Earlier this fall, my boyfriend and I took a cooking class together. It was a one-time date-night class, and I was surprised to find that we were by far one of the youngest couples there (I had thought that in a college town, there would be more couples our own age, but maybe most couples our own age don’t consider having to cook your own dinner a proper date night. Their loss!). Although we didn’t have much to contribute to the conversations during the eating portion of the evening, which centered on baby-sitters and empty nests and minivans, we thoroughly enjoyed both the class and all the food!
This is the roasted grape vinaigrette recipe from the class (with a few small adaptations – for instance, I realized that I only had regular vinegar instead of the apple cider vinegar the original recipe called for), along with a re-creation of a great chicken salad salad (a green salad with chicken salad added in) I’ve had in a local restaurant near campus. I love that this salad is hearty enough to keep me going from lunch until dinner – it’s not the type of salad someone who’s looking for a skimpy diet-type salad would choose, but rather, the type of salad someone who wants a filling meal with lots of healthy and fresh ingredients would choose. The vinaigrette is light and tangy, and the color? Simply gorgeous!
- 4 ounces baby spinach
- 6 ounces romaine, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2/3 cup cucumber, diced
- 1 Granny Smith apple, diced (optional: reserve a few slices for top of salad)
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 pound seedless red or black grapes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- dash of lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash grapes and remove stems. Combine with honey and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 10 minutes; grapes should have a blistered appearance. Set aside to cool.
- While grapes are roasting, heat vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Place chicken thighs in skillet and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Put roasted grapes (along with any juice released from grapes while in oven) in a blender, along with cider vinegar and lemon juice. Blend until liquefied. Add up to 1/4 cup olive oil and blend until oil is dispersed evenly throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare chicken salad: once chicken is cool enough to touch, shred or chop into small bite-sized pieces. Stir in mayonnaise. Add sliced almonds and one half of diced apple pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble salad: in a large bowl, mix together romaine, baby spinach, and about 1/4 -1/3 cup of vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Stir in diced cucumber and remaining apple pieces. Top with chicken salad and drizzle additional vinaigrette as desired.
- Serves 3-4.
- Vinaigrette recipe adapted from Ann Arbor Cooks.
Note: You will most likely have extra vinaigrette. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
P.S. If the couscous pilaf pictured on the side caught your eye, stay tuned! The recipe will be the focus of an upcoming post.