Roasted Beet and Balsamic Chicken Salad

roasted beet and balsamic chicken salad

Both this salad’s balsamic chicken and the balsamic vinaigrette (see vinaigrette recipe at 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 the difference here, so you can 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.

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.

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.   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.

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.

The healer Jeanette-referred to in my 2016/09/05 post Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad-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.

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 multiply; 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!

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsamic_vinegar

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/balsamic-vineger-fraud_n_5459425.html

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)/  active prep time: 3/4 hr/  baking time (for beets): 1 hr.

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

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

2 lg purple beets

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

1 lb chicken tenderloins, about 5 pieces

1/3 c balsamic vinegar

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

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

12 oz greens of your choice

8 oz feta cheese, crumbled  (Do not use pre-crumbled feta, as it is treated with preservatives, and is neither tasty or healthy.)

Agave-roasted nuts, purchased or made ahead  (See Healthy Green Salads, 2016/08/15.)

Croutons, purchased or made ahead  (See Healthy Green Salads, 2016/08/15.)

Balsamic vinaigrette, purchased or made ahead  (See 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.  Store extra in refrigerator.  For more detail on sprouting, see Sprouted Three Bean Dip (2019/05/13) 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 out; 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″ julienne slices; set aside.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  4. Chop garlic, if using fresh, set aside.
  5. 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; immediately turn tenderloins over in vinegar.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes, turning over once mid-way.
  6. Starting with the smallest tenderloin, cut each piece in thirds with a spatula; as they are cooked, remove pieces to a bowl.  Do not overcook-the meat will just be turning white inside when done.  Pour juices from pan into bowl of meat, set aside.
  7. Wash and cut bell pepper in small strips.
  8. Place greens in a serving bowl; add chicken, with half the liquid, quinoa, beets, 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

Sherry, my 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 who healed terminal illnesses with food; she was on my sister’s prayer team many years ago.  People from all over the United States were going to Jeanette for her healing ministry with diet; thus, her culinary wisdom became a gold mine for my sister Maureen and me.  Many things that I now 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.  Just prior to moving to Tokyo in the fall of 1981, however, I began eating meat once again.  My father gently reproved me for waiting until this move to do so, 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 made my friend Sherry’s simple recipe for quinoa and yam salad; nevertheless, I tweaked it.  Its food value is amplified by using what I learned from my sister’s prayer partner, the healer Jeanette.  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, which is critical, as olive oil is a carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.

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

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

1 c quinoa, sprouted  (Sprouting 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 med yellow onion,  cut in even 1/8-inch slices

1 1/2 c yams, peeled and cut in 5/8-inch cubes  (Organic purple sweet potatoes are ideal; sweet potatoes and yams are just differing names for the same vegetable; they are interchangeable.)

2 med carrots, cut in 5/8-inch cubes

2 stalks celery, cut in 5/8-inch cubes

4 lg 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, for garnish

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

  1. Soak quinoa in ample water for 8 hours; drain well and let sit for 1-2 days, rinsing about every 8-12 hours.  The sprouting is complete when legs are at least 1/4 inch long.  (The sprouting may be done in a special sprouting jar, a bowl, or on a tray-if your choice is a tray, use parchment paper both under and on top of the grain.)  Note: this process brings the enzymes alive and increases food value dramatically.  For more details on sprouting see wikihow.com/Sprout-Quinoa
  2. For saving sprouted quinoa, place it in a sealed storage bag or jar, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  Optional: if you are not ready to use the sprouts immediately, you may, with the use of clean parchment paper, spread them on a tray or large plate, to allow excess moisture to dry from sprouts (be sure not to rinse again before you start this drying process).  They should dry in about 12 hours; this aids in long-term storage.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan over med/low heat; add onion and caramelize, cook slowly until deep brown in color.  Stir every few minutes until onions begin sticking to bottom of pan and color just starts to turn; then, stir every minute, until dark brown.  For more detail on caramelizing onions, see Caramelized Onions and Carrots (2017/06/19).
  4. In the meantime, spray vegetables with an effective, safe solution (combine 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle); let sit for three minutes; rinse really well.  This kills parasites and cleanses inexpensively.
  5. Rather than peel carrots, scrape them with a sharp knife, to preserve vitamins just under the skin.  Peel yams.  Cut all vegetables into small, 5/8-inch cubes, set aside.
  6. Combine lemon juice, Braggs, maple syrup, and cumin in a large bowl; set aside.
  7. Add vegetables to hot caramelized onions; stir well to distribute oils.   Place 1/4 c water in with vegetables and cook covered, over medium heat,  for about 15 minutes, or until yams are tender, stirring occasionally.
  8. Blend fresh garlic into vegetable mixture; sauté only until you can smell the herb, about 20 seconds (if you are using frozen garlic, cook just until it thaws, stirring well).
  9. Place yam mixture and quinoa in bowl with salad dressing, mix well, chill several hours.
  10. Serve on a bed of lettuce or fresh spinach.
  11. Top with fruit and nuts.