Once up a time, there was a pregnant girl who ate far too many processed saltine crackers her first trimester. Couple that with all the popsicles consumed during the two swings of stomach flu her family suffered and said girl was left in quite the horrible food rut.
And then one day, the heavens opened, and lifted the first-trimester awfulness from her womb. And just like that, pregnant girl returned to real, wholesome food nirvana.
*I'm said pregnant girl. Just for the record. Now let's move on, shall we?*
I have never, ever valued the taste of delicious food like I have these past two weeks. To not only eat delicious food once again but to actually have it sound good… smell good… taste good… sit well in my belly – oh heavens. It's so delightful. So, I quickly welcomed back fresh food with a protein-packed salad.
What we like to call ‘Chop Salad' here on the homestead. Because, yes, it involves a lot of chopping. Lots of itty-bitty little pieces of awesomeness nestled amongst fresh, butterhead lettuce, all drizzled in a homemade red wine vinaigrette.
Your stomach is calling you to this salad. So don't resist. Just adapt it to your taste and what you've got in your refrigerator or garden. The world is your oyster, my friends.
For the croutons:
– 4 thick slices of homemade bread, such as traditional soaked whole wheat loaf
– 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon organic garlic powder
For the salad:
– 1 head butterhead lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
– 1/2 pound pastured bacon
– 2 pounds roasted (read how I do it HERE) or leftover chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup raw, organic cheese, cut or crumbled into bite-size pieces
– 3 carrots
For the dressing:
– 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 small clove garlic
We must start with the croutons because they'll gently bake while we put together the rest of the salad. To make homemade croutons, here's what I do:
Step One: Cut the bread slices into nice, big crouton-sized pieces. However big or small you wish is just fine with me – no judgement here.
Step Two: Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Gently toss with your fingers to evenly coat the croutons.
Step Three: Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until golden, toasted, and fragrant. I always error on the side of over-toasting because that's the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it (uh huh, uh huh).
Step One: Put the washed, dried, and torn lettuce into a large bowl. Large enough to hold the rest of the goodies. Am I the only one who tears lettuce instead of cuts it? I think my Mom told me that's how it must be done. Either way. Get the lettuce in the bowl, baby.
Step Two: Cut the bacon into small bits and fry in a cast iron skillet until crisp. Remove to a plate and let cool.
Mmm…. crisp bacon! My favorite. Some people are soggy bacon people. I am not one of those people. Crisp bacon for the win, baby.
Step Three: While the bacon is cooking, let's turn our attention to those farm fresh eggs we're going to hard boil. Get a small saucepan of hot water boiling on the stove – just enough water to cover the eggs. Once the water boils, gently drop the whole eggs into the hot water (I always start with room temperature eggs) and boil for 8 minutes. No more, no less. After 8 minutes, quickly run the eggs under cold water. Peel immediately.
Voila! Perfectly peeled eggs. Let's go ahead and slice those beauties into nice, thin egg pieces.
Step Four: Cut the roasted chicken into bite-size pieces as well – I told you, this is a chop salad! Chop, chop, chop. Leftover chicken from making stock works great for this salad, as does any sort of leftover cooked chicken breasts or grilled pieces. I usually use the leftover chicken from one of the home roasted, home raised chickens that we enjoy most Sundays for supper. The skin is lightly salted. Nothin' major, but chicken this good speaks for itself!
Step Four: Lastly, chop the carrots. Or do as I've done, and peel them into nice, long, beautiful shreds. I like the texture of shredded carrots in salad. But do as you wish.
Step Five: Compile the salad: lettuce, crumbled cheese, fried bacon bits, chopped chicken, hard boiled eggs, shredded carrots. Looking good, isn't it? That was a rhetorical question. The answer is yes. Of course.
I do this in my most super-fantastic Vitamix. The love of my life. The apple of my eye. The most used appliance in my entire kitchen.
Step One: Add in the red wine vinegar…
Step Two: And the the Dijon mustard… and the lemon juice, garlic, and maple syrup.
Step Three: And slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the blender runs (this will help it to whip together and remain that way). Blend for one minute.
Mmm! So simple. So fresh.
And there, my friends, is a beautiful chop salad. Even if you're not coming out of your first trimester, it's still a dish fit for a protein-starved king. I love that this dish is adaptable – add nuts, sprouts, grilled fish, and a cornucopia of vegetables, all to your liking.
I like this one.
Bacon. Chicken. Cheese. Egg. And enough lettuce to make me feel like I got my vegetable serving.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.