Chopped Salad, Chicken with Goat Cheese and Grapes, Southwest Chicken Salad

If you told me at this time last year that I’d be putting mushrooms in my dinner, I would have laughed in your face.  For much of my life, my only exposure to mushrooms were the little button ones that come in a can and squeak between my teeth.  It freaked me out, and I didn’t like them.  But I tried them fresh, and I’m starting to come around on them.  Fresh mushrooms don’t taste anything like the canned ones.  Their texture reminds me a lot of hard boiled eggs, and their earthy flavor is one of a kind. They’re not so bad.  I’m not going to go out of my way to make them, but I’m at a point where I won’t leave them out of recipes.

My first offering this week is precisely what I needed to get into a summer state of mind.  Everything about it reminds me of summer.  And since for once I didn’t add cheese to it, though in hindsight some freshly grated parm would be great, and maybe a hard boiled egg, I guess this is my first vegan meal.  I halved the recipe for personal use, but the full recipe would be great for a cook out.  Thank goodness summer is around the corner!

Chopped salad with Lemon vinegarette (inspired by

For the salad:

Summer Salad
Great as a side or a main dish. A celebration of summer in a bowl.
  • 2 white mushrooms
  • 4 cups of Spinach
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 4 scallions
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, set aside.

Roughly chop salad fixings before combining in a large bowl.


This is another recipe that if you told me a few years ago I would cook something like this, I would have thought you were nuts. The idea of fruit and cheese pairings didn’t really click with my until my husband introduced it to me, occasionally making dinners of French breads, a cheese and a fruit, occasionally paired with a beer, though I could see how a wine would fit better.  Ironically, when we were dating and he would describe such a dinner, “Oh, I just had some bread and cheese and grapes.” I would think, “You poor darling.  I need to live closer so I can cook you real food.”  Thankfully, he showed me the light one summer when we decided it was too hot to heat up the apartment with the stove.

Memories aside, this recipe freaking rocks.  Herbs and goat cheese is always a winner, but to the roasted grapes really elevates the dish.  I was surprised by the savory aspect that came from roasting the grapes, and I never would have guessed that adding thyme, salt, and pepper to them would make them taste even better.  While they have a savory aspect, there’s still a bright, sweetness which adds complexity to their flavor.  I never imagined grapes had a savory side. The original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but I used thighs since that’s what I had on hand, and they come out with a lovely juiciness that is only harmonious with the goat cheese.  Taylor Bee, my hat’s off to you.

Chicken with Goat Cheese and Roasted Grapes (from TaylormadebyTaylorbe)

Cover 5-8
Roasted grapes, who knew?
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp and 1/2 tsp thyme, split
  • 1/4 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 heaping cup firm red grapes
  • 1 oz goat cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt

salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine 1/2 tsp. thyme, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, rub over both sides of the chicken.  Let rest while you toss grapes in olive oil and 1/2 tsp. thyme, salt and pepper.  Spread over a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 8-9 minutes, until some of them begin to pop.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, melting in it 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter.  Add chicken and let cook 6-7 per side, until browned and cooked through.  Transfer to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5-10 minutes.

While the chicken is resting, mix goat cheese and Greek yogurt until creamy, if desired, add a pinch of thyme, basil, and tarragon for added flavor.

To serve, top the chicken with goat cheese mixture and grapes.


What do you do with a bunch of leftover southwest dressing when you’ve run out of salad?  Throw it over some shredded chicken and make a chicken salad, of course!  While talking with a friend a few weeks ago, we decided there was actually a lot of directions you could go with chicken salad; it doesn’t have to be just a tuna spin off.  If you’re not a huge fan of spice, don’t worry by the amount of chipotles and adobo sauce.  There’s enough sour cream (or Greek yogurt, if that’s what you’re into) to take away a fair bit of the heat.

Southwest Chicken Salad
Spicy, savory, sweet, great for a picnic.

Southwest Chicken Salad

  • 2 chicken thighs, roasted and stredded
  • 3/4 C light sour cream
  • 1/2 C frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 C chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped tomato
  • 2 diced chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 C cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

Combine in a medium-sized bowl, refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.


Tip of the week: In honor of the start of grilling season, to get those grilled checks like you see in restaurants onto your own grilled goodies, when a size is halfway through cooking, turn it 90 degrees.