Aug 22, 2010

Chicken and White Bean Salad

Chicken and White Bean Salad

Grad school starts tomorrow!! Well, for me it actually doesn’t start until Tuesday with my first day of class but to make it easier, we’ll stick with tomorrow! Since I just graduated from undergrad in May, I can’t really say that walking across the stage has made me feel any more like a grad student. However, I take a look at all the nervous and anxious freshman running around campus, and well I don’t think I look that young! I’m headed back to good ole Georgia Tech for public policy, which means rather than moving schools, I’ll just be moving sides of campus. Pretty much going from new campus to old campus. My stress level is pretty low to say the least, and I’m ok with that!
I was joking to Jor today and being fake dramatic about these being my last few hours of summer!! oh my goodness!!! However, in actuality, since I graduated I’ve just been working all summer. Mid-summer I even picked up a second part time internship to tag on to my full time job! That makes my summer not sound as great as it truly was, but I had just spent the past year juggling full time school and full time work so this actually was a partial break for me! I’ve had the time to run without thinking about last nights homework or a test I’ll have later in the day and I’ve been able to read books other than a text book! A miracle in and of itself! I’ve been able to visit family and not walk around with a text book like it was attached to my eyeballs and I’ve just been able to relax! All wonderful things!
But as nice as everything has been, I’m so excited to get back into classes. Weird to some, I know! But, by adding classes into the mix, my quick week night meals become even more important! Jor graduated in May and is taking some time before he ventures back into the school world, so he’s more available for quality time in the kitchen, but I could never put that responsibility solely on him. First of all, it’s not fair, and secondly, I love cooking just as much so keeping myself in the kitchen for only a set period of time is quite a challenge!
To start off next week in the spirit of “quick meals” I came across this chicken and white bean salad that I actually made a few weeks ago. I was baking some chocolate cakes that night for a friend, and well they looked so good I just had to make them then and there, and in effect, I needed a quick meal that wouldn’t steal all of my attention. This meal had great flavor, so quick and was packed with all the nutrients you need in one bowl! Perfect for the busy work-a-bee and student that I am!
Here’s what you’ll need for this quick week night (or weekend) meal!
(Adapted from Cooking Light. About 3-4 servings depending on how hungry you are. I think it works well for two dinners and maybe two smaller lunches.)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 chopped vine tomatoes (depends on how much tomato you prefer)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • handful of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half fresh squeezed lemon for juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • (additional salt and pepper for dressing)

The best place to start is with the chicken. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Dribble a bit of olive oil on each side of the chicken breasts with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let the chicken bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until completely cooked.

While the chicken is baking, take a large mixing bowl and add in the chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, and drained and rinsed cannellini beans. In a small glass I combined the dressing ingredients: red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I just used a spoon and gave everything a quick mix, followed by a quick taste and put it to the side until I was ready to add it to the salad mixture.

Once the chicken is done, chop it up into bite size pieces and add it to the large mixing bowl. At this time, give your dressing one last quick stir and then pour over the chicken, bean and tomato combination. Give everything a light toss and your meal is DONE! It really can’t get much faster than that!

You could add this chicken, bean mixture to a bed of lettuce to make a hardy salad or your could use it as a topping to couscous! This was the route we took and it really tasted great. Couscous is a small grainy pasta that doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but when paired with tasty flavors, becomes mighty tasty! Plus, couscous is that magical past that can be made in less than five minutes. Boil water, pour couscous in, cover, and fluff after 2 minutes. When you’re in a time crunch, couscous can become your new favorite pasta to make!

Chicken and white bean salad over couscous.

So, as I mentioned previously, I turned to this meal on a night when I was hoping to multi-task. This particular night, I was looking to juggle tasks in the kitchen but it’s not always like that. Some nights I’ve got things to finish for work plus 50+ pages to read for school. I don’t like to feel as though my to-do list is so long that I don’t have the time to spare for a good meal. So on nights when I feel this happening, I don’t skimp out on my meal but instead just turn to something that is either super fast and tasty or is a little less hands on, and still tasty! In this meal, you can put the chicken in the oven, have the tomatoes chopped and the dressing done in five minutes. You can then sit down and get some other things taken care of while the oven does the rest! For now, that’s chicken and white bean salad…in the shell of a nut!

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