Chipotle Ranch Salads

My full Potter Hill share this week is two heads of lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, kale, fresh onions, scallions, carrots, parsley, dill, and summer squash (what a bounty!!!). Since making 6 servings of the salad below only used up 1 giant head of lettuce, more salad is still in my future!! I’m planning to make chicken caesar wraps with this dressing, but this barbecue chicken salad with peaches is another excellent option. On Monday I went the classic easy dinner route, and make quesadillas with some sauteed chard, leftover grilled zucchini, and leftover grilled chicken and steak. I used the kale, perpetual spinach, and onion tops to make beans and greens, a perennial favorite (funnily enough I joked in that post about no one being able to leave the house without a salad that week…a familiar feeling). You can never go wrong with onion dip, but know that making your own will change you forever.

Now that we’re in the heart of zucchini season, here are a bunch of favorites: zucchini carbonara, zucchini herb salad, zucchini and corn enchiladas, summer quinoa salad, and pasta with zucchini, feta, and fried lemon (NYT). Whenever in doubt, cut long thick slices, coat them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw them on the grill with whatever else you are grilling. Finish with some lemon juice and a shower of herbs, or maybe even some pesto.

Chipotle Ranch Salads

Serves 6

This kind of salad works with whatever you’ve got. Leftover cooked meats and vegetables, or any other raw veg are great toppings. Mix it up!!

Dressing

  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or mayo (I used 2 tablespoons of each)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon liquid from chipotles en adobo
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Salad

  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 summer squash, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (1/4 of a large head)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese (not pictured, because I forgot in this photo)
  • 1 small fresh onion, diced (pickled would be even better)
  • 2 cups crumbed tortilla chips

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Ideally you will do this before you prep the rest of the salad ingredients so it has time to mingle (at least 30 min). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste after it has time to rest and adjust the seasoning (but remember that you want the flavor to be strong because it will be diluted by the salad).

On a large platter (or on separate plates) build your salads with lettuce, cabbage, summer squash, beans, cotija, onions, and tortilla chips. Serve with dressing.

Barbecue chicken salad with tomatoes, peaches, and goat cheese ranch dressing.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomato, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing - Vegetal Matters Christmas creep is by far the worst example, but I think the problem has gone way beyond just one holiday. It is more like seasonal creep now. It happens with businesses, beers, and food bloggers. The infamous hot pumpkin coffee beverage starts making its appearance at the end of August.  I went to a grocery store and a craft store labor day weekend and was bombarded with pumpkin beer and Halloween decor. And this doesn’t just happen this time of year. Sam Summer goes out on shelves in March. Recipes for asparagus and strawberries pop up everywhere in March and April, even though their seasons aren’t really in full swing until June. Tomato dishes are everywhere in July, but their peak season is August and September (and it even goes into October).

There is a push for always preparing for what is ahead, instead of enjoying what is here. A need to experience all the quintessential things that are supposed to happen in a season, instead of the reality. It is about to be October. I live in Massachusetts, and on Monday I went to the farm where I buy my produce and selected from summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, radishes, winter squashes, potatoes, kale, chard, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, onions and herbs. It is that wonderful time of seasonal transition, when both summer and winter crops are coming in. I still love my share of fall crops (though pumpkin does not get me nearly as twitterpated as everyone else), but my true favorites come from summer. The beauty in many fall and winter crops is they last a long time if stored properly. So I have many months to get in my butternut squash soup and beet salads, but in the meantime I’m going to ingest all the nightshades and stone fruit I can manage.

Last week I made barbecue chicken, but wanted a lighter meal for the leftovers. A few peaches from peach week were still in the fridge, and since I’ve already put peaches and tomatoes together, and peaches and chicken together, putting peaches, tomatoes, and chicken in one dish wasn’t much of a stretch.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

Serves 4.

This is easily scale-able. If you don’t eat chicken, chickpeas or cauliflower (a la buffalo cauliflower salad) would make an excellent substitution.

Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts with barbecue sauce (see note for substitutions), chopped
  • 12ish cups lettuce (I used a mix of lettuce and cabbage), enough to fill 4 dinner plates, from about 1/2 a head of cabbage and a small head of lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes (or a few handfuls cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 peaches

Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onion
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley

If you have a food processor, set it up with the S blade (or use a blender). Turn it on and drop the garlic in from the top, processing until you don’t hear any more bits bouncing around. Add in the shallot, and process for 30 seconds. Add the goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper in and process until smooth. Without a food processor, whisk the garlic, shallot, goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper together. Then whisk in the parsley (don’t add the parsley into the food processor unless you want a very green dressing). Allow the dressing to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you can.

Chop peaches and tomato into ½ inch pieces. Divide lettuce onto plates, then top each plate with a quarter of the tomatoes, peaches, and barbecue chicken (I like to warm it slightly). Serve with goat cheese ranch.