Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, then you’ve heard me whining — since all the way back in July — about my tendinitis/RSI injury from too much computering.
It felt like a long summer of going to physical therapy, not-so-patiently resting my hands, wrists, and arms, and taking lots of forced time off from the laptop and the internet.
Even now that I’m back to doing a little typing, I’m limiting myself to about 3 hours per day of using my new ergonomic keyboard and taking frequent, regular breaks (using free RSI break reminder apps). And believe me, 3 hours feels like nothing, especially when you’ve been a graduate student/food blogger. I don’t think I’ve ever been so behind on responding to emails in my life.
But back to this summer: I didn’t cook; I didn’t wash dishes. (Well, I tried, but then my hands were in so much pain that Paula forbid me from doing anything in the kitchen…) So it all fell on Paula’s shoulders — all the cooking and cleaning for two, on top of her full-time job.
And yet, we still survived the summer! (And we only ate 1 or 2 frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s a week!) How did we do it? This salad.
This salad, with my new favorite homemade salad dressing. This salad, which we ate so often this summer because it was the fastest, easiest, most satisfying, tendinitis-friendly and wallet-friendly meal we could come up with. We now refer to it as Tendinitis Salad.
It all started the weekend after I first went to urgent care for wrist pain back in July. Some friends came to visit and we all drove up to wine country for a picnic, then we got back into town too late to throw together a real dinner — plus my hands were out of commission — so we stopped at a restaurant for take-out and I ordered a grilled chicken salad.
The restaurant salad was as simple as can be: grilled chicken strips, red onions, and diced tomatoes over mixed greens — something I likely never would have ordered if I hadn’t been craving some kind of fresh, protein-y, carb-less detox after a full day of bread, cheese, and wine. After one too many baguette slices smeared with brie, the salad hit the spot. I realized how much I was enjoying the tangy balsamic honey dressing and thought — as I so often have: I could make this!
And so, a week or two later, I threw together the ONLY thing I made this summer: this vinaigrette.
Here’s where the tendinitis-friendliness comes in: all you need is an immersion blender and a mason jar, and you’ll have minimal salad-dressing-dishes to wash. Just toss in a roughly-chopped shallot (Paula chopped it for me), some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and maybe a dash of Dijon mustard, and blend away with the immersion blender.
Even my damaged hands could handle pushing the button for the few seconds it took to whip up the smooth emulsion, tangy with vinegar, creamy from the shallot, and with just a hint of sweetness from the honey. One batch makes about a cup, which will last in the fridge and make your future salad-making even speedier.
The tendinitis-friendliness continues: we topped our salad with warm shredded chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken (no cooking! no clean-up!) and with cherry tomatoes (no chopping!), pickled red onion (purely optional, Paula would argue), and crumbled feta cheese.
The result was a salad that I don’t think we’ll ever get sick of — we certainly didn’t this summer, despite eating it too many times to count.
I think it was a salad that helped us survive the summer partially because we tend to crave salads on hot summer nights anyway — we just made this one a little more substantial. With the chicken and feta, it’s hearty enough to stand in for an entree, but try a variation on it without the chicken as a nice side-salad accompaniment to a meal.
You might be less enthused about cold salads now that fall has arrived, but the contrasting temperatures of the warm chicken on the bed of mixed greens makes for a surprisingly pleasant and satisfying meal in any season. (And I don’t know about you, but I can never get enough greens in the fall and winter months…)
As the season of roast chickens and roast
turkeys turkey approaches, this would also be a nice way to use up some of that leftover turkey or chicken, especially if you’re not into resorting — for reasons of tendinitis (or deliciousness) — to store-bought rotisserie chicken. Just gently warm up some shredded chicken/turkey leftovers in the microwave, top your salad with them before you drizzle over the dressing, and enjoy.
I might be late to the game on this, but green salads with one or two warm elements have finally caught my attention — I’m converted now, a lifelong fan.
I think this means some version of a warm chickpea salad is destined to appear in my future (although Paula swears she’ll never enjoy chickpeas in salads, but I suspect that’s just because the ones she’s tried haven’t been warm and/or seasoned enough). But first it will be hard to tear myself away from just enjoying this Tendinitis Salad with balsamic vinaigrette over and over again.
Print these recipes. (PDF)
Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette
(Makes about 1 cup)
Active and Total time: 5 minutes.
~ 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
~ 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or more, to taste
~ 1/2 cup olive oil, or more, to taste
~ 2-3 tsp. honey
~ sea salt and black pepper
~ 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard (optional)
Special equipment needed:
~ immersion blender (or blender)
How to make it:
1. Combine all ingredients in a tall, narrow container, like a mason jar, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Or use a standard blender.)
2. Enjoy right away or refrigerate in an airtight container, then warm to room temperature before serving (some separation will occur in the fridge).
Warm Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (“Tendinitis Salad”)
~ mixed greens
~ cherry tomatoes
~ preferred vegetables, like sliced bell pepper or cucumber
~ red onion or pickled red onion
~ crumbled feta cheese
~ shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey
~ Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette
Assemble salad ingredients in bowls, then top each bowl with warmed chicken or turkey and drizzle over the vinaigrette. Alternatively, in a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients except the feta cheese together to lightly coat them in vinaigrette, then divide into bowls, sprinkle with crumbled feta, and serve.
Print these recipes! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
|Fig and Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette||Preserved Lemon Salad Dressing||Japanese Creamy Kurogoma (Black Sesame) Salad Dressing||Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard Potato Salad|