Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Chicken Salad

Although I've been eating lots of main-course salads lately, I've been kind of stuck in a rut with my favorites. My husband and I have been in our new house for almost two weeks now, and although most things were unpacked just a few days after we moved in, I have a never-ending list of projects to tackle. Being able to throw together a tasty and nutritious meal quickly has been invaluable as I settle into my new house, but there hasn't been much time for creativity. Fortunately, not all my culinary inspirations require hours to realize (although I can't wait to make the most my new and much-improved kitchen), this simple salad being a prime example. The earthiness of the mushrooms is juxtaposesd perfectly by the fresh asparagus and salty, savory Parmesan cheese, made substantial by a generous helping of chicken. It's light enough for a summer main, but filling enough to be appropriate any time of the year. The vegetarian version of this salad is also delicious; the chicken can simply be omitted, but to make it hearty enough for a main course, walnuts are a great substitution.

As asparagus slowly fades from the farmers' market, chased by arrival of sugar snap peas, green beans, and other early summer bounty, I'll be happily indulging in the last of my favorite asparagus dishes, then gleefully moving on to a new round of culinary experiments. There's nothing more inspiring than the cornucopia of ingredients available in the farmers' market during the summer, and I can't wait to put my new kitchen to full use.

Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Chicken Salad
serves 2

4 ounces cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
4 ounces asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 ounces mixed greens, spinach, or lettuce 
1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salad dressing, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss mushrooms and asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in a even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing occasionally, until tender but not mushy, about 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, coat chicken breast lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Allow to rest for at least five minutes and then thinly slice or shred chicken.

3. Divide greens between two plates, topping each with half of the roasted asparagus, mushrooms,  and chicken. Top each plate with half of the Parmesan cheese and serve with dressing of choice.

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