Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Southwestern Chicken Salad, Quesadillas, and Things I Have Learned

Tonight, you're getting a really good glimpse into a night with a half-ass dinner, with ingredients that aren't exactly fresh. Hey. It's March 1. Our Farmer's Market hasn't opened yet, and it's Monday night. Defensive much? I know. Let's proceed, shall we?

First off, I need to complain about two purchases. That's in the Things I Have Learned category.

1. I will never, ever, buy Pier 1 pillar candles again. I will spend the additional buck (not even) and get the ones from Pottery Barn. Holy Disappearing Wick, Batman! The Pier 1 candles just... SUCK. Someone is going to send me a message or post a comment (which I will publish, as long as it's not just an insult on my person or my parentage), saying I'm crazy - they're wonderful. But I gotta say, side-by-side testing has proven to me over and OVER again (I'm a slow learner), that the Pottery Barn candles are better. I can burn those babies almost all the way down to the bottom with NO PROBLEMS. The Pier 1 candles, on the other hand, I have to pull out cutlery and dig out wicks after every single use. This is not only hard on my digits, it's a pain and it only pulls the wick out long enough to let the candle burn maybe ten more minutes before the wick disappears again. OK. NEVER AGAIN.

2. I will never, ever again buy Artisan salad greens.

Pretty, aren't they?

Well, they may be beautiful, and they're reasonably fresh and tasty, but I washed mine SEVEN TIMES tonight and they STILL had grit coming out! Now, first of all, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that will ruin a dinner faster for me than chomping down on something gritty. Yes, I include peas in that. I'd rather eat an entire bowlful of nasty, disgusting, mooshy green peas than eat a delicious salad, put my molars together, and feel "ZZHHHTTT"!!! - That instant, pull your mouth wide open and clutch your jaw, jarring grit-filled bite. So I washed the greens. Again. And again. And again. And I'd go on, but I'd freaking run out of room, because apparently these greens were grown UNDERGROUND by BEACH MOLES living in SAND DUNES.

 Proprieter and manager of Artisan Greens


OK, so there are my two lessons. Buy Pottery Barn pillar candles for almost the same price as Pier 1, and NEVER buy Artisan lettuce again, unless I have eight full hours to wash the greens.

Here was dinner. And you'll see where I cheated. Kind of. Well, OK, a lot.

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Black Bean Quesadillas

but isn't the picture pretty!?

Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salted and peppered and grilled on a foil-lined pan until cooked
4 tomatillas, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
6 cups NON ARTISAN BRAND mixed greens, hopefully already washed and dried for you. Holy cow.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
generous pinch Kosher Salt
1 can black beans (cheating, kind of)
1 can Rotel chilis (cheating, totally)
1 cup frozen corn (sort of cheating, but not really because it's not fresh corn season)
1 package (I almost can't bring myself to say this) Ranch dressing seasoning (hanging head in shame)
Juice of 1/2 lime
2/3 cup olive oil mayonaisse
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
1 chipotle pepper from canned chipotles in adobo sauce

In two small pots over medium heat, divide the olive oil. Add 1/2 the diced onion to each pot and a pinch of kosher salt to each. Saute until the onion is slightly browned and limp. Add 1/2 the can of Rotel Chilis to each pot. In one pot, add the can of black beans. In the other, add the corn. Simmer over low heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together until well-blended.

Shred the lettuce into a large bowl. Add the tomatillas, cucumber, cilantro, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Top with feta cheese. When the beans and chicken and corn are done, chop the chicken and top the salad with all of these warm ingredients. Dress with the chipotle dressing and serve with quesadillas.

Serves 4

4 large wheat tortillas (I use whole wheat, because they're better for you, but there not as good as white)
soft butter for spreading
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozarella
1 large spoonful of corn mixture from above
1 large spoonful of black bean mixture from above

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Butter one tortilla and place butter side down in the skillet. Add the mozarella, corn mixture and bean mixture and spread somewhat evenly. Butter another tortilla and place it butter side up on top of the other. Cook until the tortilla on the bottom is browned and crispy, then flip and cook the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cut into quarters and serve.

Shopping list:
4 tomatillas
1 cucumber
1 onion
1 lime

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about a pound)

1/4 cup feta cheese

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 can black beans
1 can Rotel chilis
canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 package Ranch dressing seasoning

frozen corn


ronda said...

When you said cheating I was hoping to see McNuggets with dipping sauce :)

btrawick said...

Your "Cheating" is survival for most! On a weeknight, tell me how to turn the cans and packets in my cabinet into something new, "fresh" and different, I'm good!

Morgan said...

Oh, no! What's next, canned cream of mushrooms soup? Cool-whip? AAAHHH!

Anonymous said...

I can't remember who told me this when I was once complaining about gritty lettuce but I will pass it on anyway: Fill a big bowl or the sink with cold water. Put lettuce in. Wait. The grit will sink and the lettuce will float. You have to give it time and maybe stir it once or twice. It works.

Andie Reid said...

Thanks for the tip! I had actually soaked the greens as well. There was just a LOT of grit on there!