Summer feels like it’s already here with all the sunshine and blue skies we’ve had the past week in California. The telltale sign for me is walking into a market and seeing all the ripe and juicy produce screaming my name. Between the watermelons, fresh corn and avocado towers strategically placed throughout my local stores, there was simply no way I could escape the aisles this week without dreaming up a fresh and colorful summer salad. I decided to grab a handful of the best looking organic produce I could find, get it home, and come up with a recipe from scratch, allowing the fresh ingredients to inspire me from the counter top all day long. I grabbed ripe mangoes, a beautiful avocado, asparagus and some butter and red leaf lettuces. It wasn’t long before I had an idea in mind; mangoes are delicious in dressings and when pureed, make it so very little oil, if any is needed. When herbs, like basil are added, there’s really not much more you need to do in terms of seasoning. I threw in a few tricks (like adding low-sugar apricot preserves into the dressing) so that the fat in the meal could come from the avocado, as well as from some shelled pistachios. If there had been a lot of oil in the dressing, the salad would have been too heavy on the fats, even though the fat sources were healthy. The dressing does turn into a bit of a greenish color because of the basil. If you want it to stay bright orange for a lovely drizzle (like I did in the photo below), whip up the dressing in your mini food processor without the basil. Pull off a couple tablespoons and reserve it for your topping, and then add the basil. When it’s tossed with your greens, it coats them with a fresh-from-the-garden flavor that’s sweet, tangy and herb-y.
Calories: 320 Fat: 11 g; Protein: 20g ; Carb: 22g
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup reduced sugar apricot preserves, separated (reserve 3 tbsp for dressing)
- 1 diced avocado
- 2 diced mangoes, separated (keep one for dressing, one to top the salad)
- 6 cups baby red butter lettuce
- 20-30 asparagus spears
- 1 clove garlic, crushed, or half a teaspoon jarred Trader Joe’s garlic
- 1 cube Trader Joe’s frozen basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp Agave Nectar
For the Vinaigrette:
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 mango chopped
- 5 tbsp white balsamic vinegar or flavored white vinegar, or fine aged balsamic (I like the 25 year at Williams-Sonoma)
- 3 tbsp low-sugar apricot preserves
- two frozen cubes Trader Joe’s frozen basil
- 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/8 cup shelled roasted/salted pistachios (plus a few for topping)
Marinate the chicken in a large zip lock bag in 1/8 cup reduced sugar apricot preserves, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tbsp Agave nectar, 1 tsp fresh or frozen chopped basil for 4-8 hours.
Grill your chicken breasts and allow to cool. Slice or chop chicken. Grill asparagus that’s been sprayed with cooking spray for a few minutes (cooked through but still crisp). Cool and then slice into two-inch spears.
Toss all vinaigrette ingredients into a mini food processor and process until smooth, adding nuts last, and keeping them slightly chunky. Refrigerate for 1 hour, if desired.
Toss half the dressing with the lettuce. Divide lettuce on four plates; top with chicken, chopped mango, avocado and asparagus. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Top with extra chopped pistachios and/or red onions, if you like.