Tempting salads can bring magic to a table as the beginning of an exciting meal experience or as the main course. But too often they lack visual appeal when the salad's bland greenery is allowed to overpower its composition and flavor.
Color and aroma should pull diners into a meal, priming their senses for all that is to follow.
Just as we appreciate the fine lines of a beautifully designed home and the yard that surrounds it, a little thought and imagination given to constructing an attractive salad will earn the praise of your guests.
Pull together a colorful salad by using a mix of pale and dark greens and bright add-ins such as ripe tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, sliced carrots, beets, and purple cabbage.
Then spice it up with a flavorful dressing that will have diners reaching for seconds.
Success tips:Salads and dressings can be made ahead of time, but be sure to toss the vegetables with lemon juice to prevent unsightly browning.
When preparing chicken for salads, reserve broth, strain and freeze for soups and sauces.
Wine and salads can go together well, but always select flavors that will enhance, not conflict with, each other, and support the whole meal.
A quartet of grated raw vegetables - carrots, turnips, beets and Jerusalem artichoke - arranged on a bed of greens will stimulate the eye, while a bold vinaigrette will excite the taste buds.
Hawaiian Chicken Salad
Makes 4 servings
3 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon whole
peppercorns (white or black)
3 sprigs parsley
1 stalk celery (chopped)
3 cups water
Shredded iceberg lettuce
1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in long, thin wedges
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and sliced
2 bananas, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Thinly sliced green onions and whole strawberries (for garnish)
1. Cut whole chicken breasts into halves. Place chicken breasts in a 4 1/2 to 5-quart Dutch oven or deep frying pan. Add salt, dried thyme, peppercorns, parsley, celery and water.
2. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer just until chicken is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken from broth (save broth for soups and sauces, if desired).
3. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut breasts in crosswise strips about 1/2 inch wide. Divide chicken into 4 portions and arrange each on lettuce in the center of a large, chilled individual plate.
4. Surround with pineapple wedges and slices of avocado, banana and kiwi fruit (if desired). Spoon a little chutney dressing over the chicken and fruits. Sprinkle with nuts. Garnish with onion and strawberries.
5. Serve immediately, with remaining dressing in a bowl to add at the table.
Per serving: 607 calories, 36 grams protein, 69 grams carbohydrates, 49 grams sugar, 25 grams fat, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 689 milligrams sodium, 17 grams dietary fiber
Chutney Dressing for Hawaiian Chicken Salad
Makes about 3/4 cup
3 tablespoons each mayon naise and sour cream
1/4 cup Major Grey-variety mango chutney
1/4 teaspoon each salt and curry powder
Dash hot-pepper sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
In a medium bowl, whisk until smooth mayonnaise, sour cream, chutney, salt, curry powder, hot-pepper sauce and vinegar.
Per serving (based on 4): 121 calories, trace protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams sugar, 10 grams fat, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 248 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber