Roasted Beet and Balsamic Chicken Salad

roasted beet and balsamic chicken salad

The inspiration for this salad came when I needed one for a ladies tea at my church.  Since then I have used it to bless several large crowds; thus, it is written for ten servings which I in turn multiplied; in this way chefs write their recipes for restaurant use.  You, however, may choose to prepare half this receipt.  Don’t miss its simple pleasure.

The healer Jeanette, from my previous post, emphasizes the importance of color in her life-giving diet.  I kept her instructions in mind as I chose this produce; thus, I included purple beets as opposed to multi-colored ones, which are light in pigment when cooked; bright yellow peppers provided a health-promoting, visual contrast.

Both this salad’s balsamic chicken and the balsamic vinaigrette (2016/08/22) may be made with real balsamic, which originated in Modena, Italy about 900 years ago.  We, however, without knowing it often use a cheaper, imitation version of this.  I will teach you the difference here, so you may shop wisely, if you want to invest in the best.

Wikipedia defines the aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar), guarded by European agencies, as a very dark, concentrated, intensely flavored vinegar made wholly or partially from grape must.  The word aceto balsamico is unregulated, but there are three of these protected balsamic vinegars; it is required that they come from the province of Modena and the wider Emilia region surrounding it.  The two best of these always have the word tradizionale, traditional, in their names: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia; both are made from reduced grape must and aged for numerous years in a series of wooden barrels.  The third Aceto Balsamico di Modena is also made from grape must, but only partially, as it is blended with wine vinegar, making it less expensive.1

The HuffPost explains how to discern these authentic versions, by looking for their place of origin and the words: grape must, aged grape must, Mosto d’Uva, or DOC in the list of ingredients.  Without one of these words you will be getting imitation wine vinegar with coloring added to it.2

The first two mentioned above, known as balsamico tradizionale, are dark in color and very costly, because they are aged to syrupy perfection for 12-100 years, under rigid restrictions.  Expect to pay up to $400 a bottle.3   This traditional balsamic is not vinegar made from wine, but rather it is made from grape pressings that have never been permitted to ferment into wine.  It begins with boiling down sweet white Trebbiano grape pressings to dark syrup, which is aged in an oaken keg with a vinegar “mother”.  Over the years it graduates to smaller and smaller kegs of different kinds of wood, as moisture evaporates from it, further thickening the vinegar and concentrating the flavor; the varying woods, chestnut, cherry wood, ash, mulberry, and juniper, provide its great character.  The result is extravagant taste.  As with the world’s most expensive spice saffron, a little goes a long way.4

Aceto Balsamico di Modena, the other regulated balsamic, is partially made with grape must and blended with wine vinegar, making it less costly.  Its restrictions are that it has to be from the Modena or Emilia regions and carry a Protected Geographical Indication status, which comes from a different agency than that protecting the balsamico traditzionale.

Like with good wine, price often dictates quality.  Surprises, however, sometimes occur: this authentic blended vinegar, complete with the authorized seal, is available at Trader Joe’s at a very moderate cost, as their excellent buyers shop globally, negotiating low prices, for the large quantities they are obtaining.  This label is good, but even better may be experienced.

Explore the exciting world of vinegars; make this dressing with a high quality aceto balsamico, or get Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (aged 10 years at $3.99 for 8.5 ounces), which is also delicious.  As a result, this salad will tantalize your taste buds!

  1. ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsamic_vinegar
  2. www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/balsamic-vineger-fraud_n_5459425.html
  3.  Ibid.
  4. https://www.thespruce.com/about-balsamic-vinegar-1808088

cooking tenderloins in balsamic vinegar

Roasted Beet and Balsamic Chicken Salad  Yields: 10 servings (may make half this recipe).  Total prep time: 2 days (for sprouting quinoa) plus 1 3/4 hr/  active prep time: 3/4 hr/  baking time: 1 hr.

Note: using my recipes, you may prepare ahead: balsamic vinaigrette (2016/08/22), croutons (2016/08/15), and agave roasted nuts (2016/08/15), for keeping on hand at all times; may also substitute ready-made versions.

1/2 cup quinoa, sprouted 1-2 days in advance  (Directions are below.)

2 large purple beets, or the equivalent thereof

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 pound chicken tenderloins, about 5 pieces

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3 large cloves of garlic, minced  (Better yet, use 1 cube of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s.)

1 yellow bell pepper  (Organic is important here, as bell peppers readily absorb pesticides.)

10-12 ounces greens of your choice

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled  (Do not use pre-crumbled feta, as it is treated with preservatives and not as tasty.)

Agave roasted nuts, made ahead, see Healthy Green Salads (2016/08/15)

Home-made croutons, made ahead, see Healthy Green Salads (2016/08/15)

Balsamic vinaigrette, made ahead (2016/08/22)

  1. Using either a sprouting jar or a bowl, sprout quinoa 2 days in advance, by first soaking it in water for 6-8 hours (may make extra quinoa); then, draining off water well, let it sit for 1-2 days until sprouted, rinsing about every 12 hours.  If finished before using, do the following: when 1/4 inch long legs have grown, without rinsing again, spread prepared quinoa on a tray or large plate, covered with parchment, to let dry for about 12 more hours.  Store in a sealed storage bag or jar and refrigerate, keeps for up to two weeks.  For more detail on sprouting, see Sprouted Three Bean Dip (2017/06/26) and Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad (2016/09/05).
  2. If chicken is frozen, thaw in water.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash and lightly oil beets; wrap in aluminum foil, leaving closure upright to keep juices from spilling; bake on cookie sheet for 3/4–1 1/4 hours, depending on size of beets.  Open foil and cool in wrap for 10 minutes; peel skin off by rubbing with hands; cut in 1/4 inch julienne slices; set aside.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  4. Heat tablespoon of oil in large skillet; place thawed tenderloins on paper towel, salting and peppering them extra well before cooking; when tiny piece of chicken sizzles in oil, add the rest.  Pour balsamic over meat and add garlic; turn tenderloins over in vinegar.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Starting with the smallest tenderloin, cut each piece in thirds with a spatula; as they are cooked remove pieces to a bowl-the meat will just be turning white inside when done.  Do not overcook.  Pour juice from pan into bowl, which will further marinate meat.
  6. Wash and cut bell pepper in small strips, set aside.
  7. Place greens in a serving bowl; add quinoa, beets, chicken, peppers, feta cheese, and nuts; toss with balsamic vinaigrette; serve with croutons. Delicious!

Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad

 

sprouted quinoa and yam salad

sprouted quinoa and yam salad

A beloved friend from Montana sent me this healthy recipe, which I improved on.  It literally sings in your mouth!

I learned about quinoa from a woman that healed terminal illnesses with food.  She was on my sister’s prayer team many years ago.  People from all over the United States came for her healing ministry with diet.  Her culinary wisdom was a gold mine for Maureen and me!  Many things that I recommend originated with her.

We learned that sprouted quinoa was considered the number one power food on planet earth.  Eggs and quinoa are the only foods that have all the amino acids, thus making them a complete protein.

I was a vegetarian for six years in my twenties.  Back then, much of my knowledge for healthy eating came from the marvelous cookbook by Francis Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971).  These recipes utilized balanced combinations of plant foods and dairy.  The combining of their differing amino acids complimented each other to make complete proteins.  For instance, its memorable Indian Pudding called for a balance of cornmeal, soy grits, milk, and eggs to form a strong protein.  How I relished it hot, with rich vanilla ice cream melting around the edges!  I still do.

I was quite skilled in cooking this way in the 1970’s.  However, I started eating meat once again just prior to moving to Tokyo in the fall of 1981.  My father gently reproved me for waiting until then to do this, because beef was exorbitantly expensive in Japan, while being relatively cheap in America.  My thinking was that  I needed to be prepared for gracious Oriental hospitality.

Recently I prepared my Montana friend’s simple recipe for quinoa and yam salad. However I tweaked it!  Its food value is amplified by using what I learned from my sister’s prayer partner, the healer: here I sprouted this ancient grain from Peru, which increases its food value dramatically.  Also I worked with the colors of the foods (color is real important.)  I incorporated red raspberries, purple sweet potato, and orange carrots.  Another important recommendation is the use of coconut or avocado oil.  This is critical as olive oil is a carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.

This healthy salad is dynamite!  Make an abundance for leftovers.

Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad  Yields: about 4 servings.  Total prep time 2 days (for sprouting quinoa) and 1 hr; active prep time: 1 hr.

1 cup sprouted quinoa  (Directions are below-make 2 days ahead.)

1 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at root and stem and cut in 1/8 inch slices

1 1/2 cup yam, peeled and cut in 5/8 inch cubes  (I like to use organic purple sweet potato; sweet potatoes and yams are just differing names for the same vegetable; they are interchangeable.)

2 medium carrots, cut in 5/8 inch cubes

2 stalks celery, cut in 5/8 inch cubes

3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine  (For easy preparation, may use 2 frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s.)

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp Bragg’s Amino Acids  (Available in any health store.)

1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup

3/4 tsp dried cumin

Spinach or lettuce leaves

Fresh raspberries, or dried cranberries, to garnish

Agave-roasted nuts  (See recipe in ‘Healthy Green Salads’ post, 2016/08/15.)

  1. Soak quinoa in ample water for 8 hours; drain well and let sit for 1-2 days, rinsing about every 12 hours; the sprouting is complete when legs are at least 1/4 inch long.  This process may be done in a sprouting jar, a bowl, or on a tray-if your choice is a tray, use parchment paper both under and on top of the seeds.  Providing you are not ready to use sprouts immediately, using clean parchment paper, spread them on a tray or large plate to dry (be sure not to rinse again before you start this drying process, they should dry in about 12 hours).  You may then place in a sealed storage bag or jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  This process brings the enzymes alive and increases food value dramatically!  (For more details on sprouting see wikihow.com/Sprout-Quinoa)
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium/low heat.  Add onion and carmelize, cook slowly until deep brown in color; stir every few minutes for first 30 minutes of cooking, or until onions begin sticking to bottom of pan and color just starts to turn; then, stir every minutes, as color changes more quickly; cook until dark brown.  For more detail on carmelizing onions, see Carmelized Onions and Carrots (2017/06/19).
  3. In the meantime, spray vegetables with a solution of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Leave sit three minutes.  Rinse really well.  This kills parasites and cleanses inexpensively. Rather than peel, scrape carrots with a sharp knife to preserve vitamins just under the skin.  Peel yams.  Cut all vegetables into small, 5/8-inch cubes.
  4. Meanwhile combine lemon juice, Braggs, maple syrup, and cumin in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  5. Add vegetables to hot carmelized onions, stir well to distribute oils.   Add 1/4 cup water; cook covered for about 15 minutes, or until yams are tender; stir occasionally.
  6. Blend fresh garlic into vegetable mixture; sauté for about 15 seconds, or only until you can smell the herb.  If you are using frozen garlic, cook just until it thaws; stir well.  For more detail on cooking with garlic, see Tomato/Feta Chicken (2016/07/25).
  7. Place yam mixture and quinoa in bowl with salad dressing, mix well.  Chill several hours.
  8. Serve on a bed of lettuce or fresh spinach.
  9. Top with fruit and nuts.