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Family Features

Chicken Salad With Roasted Tomatoes

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Family Features

Warm Pasta Salad With Pecans and Spinach

Salads are a great way to add satisfying flavor and versatility to a healthy eating plan. In fact, research has shown that salad eaters take in greater amounts of essential nutrients such as vitamins C and E and folic acid. The key to a nutritious salad is to build it wisely by choosing healthy ingredients from the bottom up.

Salad Makings: Choose Wisely

Each salad topping has unique benefits, so it’s important to build a nutritious salad using a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Darker salad greens contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which battles certain cancers, and folic acid, which helps tissues grow. Most salad greens are also sources of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Tomatoes and cherries are loaded with potassium and lycopene, which helps protect against heart disease and cancer.

Carrots, yellow peppers and pineapple contain carotenoids, which reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Pecans are loaded with more than 19 vitamins and minerals, packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and they’re a great source of protein. In addition, medical research suggests eating pecans may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol.

Blueberries and raisins are full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, which help protect from some cancers and infections. They also boost brain health and vision.

Dressing for (Dietary) Success

What many people don’t know is that salad dressings, like their vegetable, fruit and nut peers, provide important health benefits. Research has also shown the healthy oils in salad dressings help the body absorb key nutrients such as lycopene and alpha- and beta-carotene. Plus, the majority of salad dressings are free of trans fats.

These easy recipes bring flavor and nutrition to your salad bowl. For more on salads and dressings, visit www.saladaday.org and www.dressings-sauces.org. For more about pecans, visit www.ilovepecans.org.

Chicken Salad With Roasted Tomatoes

Yield: 2 servings

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped and toasted

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons butter

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups mixed greens

Red onion slices

Cucumber slices

2 ounces blue cheese

Ranch or balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together pecans, panko, salt, cayenne and black pepper.

Melt butter and oil in ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge chicken in pecan panko mixture. Sauté in skillet until brown on bottom — about 2 minutes. Turn chicken over and place skillet in oven. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until cooked through. Set aside. Slice when cool.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Arrange tomatoes on baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble, divide greens between two plates. Arrange red onion, cucumber, roasted tomatoes and chicken over greens. Top with blue cheese, if desired. Serve with ranch dressing or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Romaine, Pecan and Pear Salad

Yield: 6 servings

6 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and torn

1 cup radicchio, washed and torn

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 Bosc pears, thinly sliced

1 cup pecans

3/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup raspberry or red wine vinaigrette dressing

1/3 cup feta cheese, optional

Place Romaine, radicchio, parsley and shallots in large bowl and toss gently. Arrange pears, pecans and dried cherries on greens.

Pour dressing over salad and toss. Top with feta cheese, if desired.

Dressing may be passed separately.

Warm Pasta Salad With Pecans and Spinach

Yield: 4 servings

8 ounces rigatoni pasta

1/4 cup Italian or Greek dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

5 ounces baby spinach

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup toasted pecans

Cook pasta in 2 quarts boiling, salted water until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer pasta to large bowl and toss with dressing. Keep warm.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.

Add spinach to skillet and sauté until just beginning to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine with pasta and mix in ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Top with toasted pecans.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

Yield: 2 servings

1 8-ounce salmon filet

2 teaspoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 lemons

6 small red new potatoes

1 cup fresh green beans

3 hard cooked eggs, peeled and sliced

1 cup pecans

1/3 cup Nicoise olives

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

Watercress for garnish

1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing

Prepare coals in barbecue (or gas) grill. Brush salmon with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Cut lemons in half. Grill salmon, skin side down until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Place lemons on grill with salmon, cut side down and grill until beginning to brown. Remove lemons and salmon from grill and set aside.

Cut potatoes in half and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Chill until ready to use. Steam green beans until just tender. Chill until ready to use.

To assemble salad, arrange lemons, potatoes, green beans, sliced eggs, and pecans. Add olives, capers and tomatoes around salmon. Serve with dressing of choice.

All materials courtesy of: Association for Dressings & Sauces / National Pecan Shellers Association

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