Two Fabulous Blueberry Salads
If blueberries aren’t the best tasting of the early-summer fruits, I don’t know what is. Much has been written about the “superfruit” qualities of blueberries. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, all at a mere 80 calories per cup. What other superfood can give you so much return for so few calories and at the same time taste so sweet?
And while blueberries are out of season right now, we bought them in the summer and froze them. Lots of them. Three flats this summer. And now, in October, we’re still enjoying fresh summer blueberries.
Next summer, try them yourself. To preserve blueberries for eating throughout the long winter months, freeze and store them immediately after purchase. Simply wash the blueberries well and dry them thoroughly, lay them out on trays between layers of clean dish towels, and freeze. Later, bag them up in quart-size freezer bags and store them on the bottom shelf of your freezer. The reward for the modest effort expended is unimaginable, especially when you realize that you can dump a load of fresh blueberries on your morning cereal or in your pancakes when there is still snow on the ground. Or, just eat ’em straight out of the bag, little sweet frozen treats exploding with flavor and nutrition.
Here, fresh for good summer eating all year, are two fabulous cold blueberry salads, one from the August, 2003 issue of Cooking Light. The other is one we’ve been playing with for years. You can poach or grill your chicken–either way is fine–and both are filling and satisfying dishes that will surprise your family or guests with an unexpected sweet and savory–and extremely healthy–treat.
Chicken, Endive, and Blueberry Salad with Toasted Pecans
4 cups sliced Belgian endive (about 2 large heads), or, if you prefer a milder green, Bibb lettuce
2 cups mesclun (gourmet salad greens)
1 ½ cups boneless chicken breast, poached or grilled, chopped to 1-inch cubes
1 ½ cup fresh blueberries
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons honey
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat or feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper, whisk until combined. Add to salad and toss to coat.
Sprinkle salad with cheese and pecans. Drizzle olive oil over the salad and toss lightly before serving.
CHICKEN AND BLUEBERRY PASTA SALAD
2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached or grilled, chopped to 1-inch cubes
8 ounces whole-wheat pasta – fusilli, radiatore, gemelli or rotini. Or use protein-plus .
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Precook the chicken and chill, prepare the pasta according to the package directions, and then rinse with cold water.
For the dressing, place the oil and shallot in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Add broth, feta and lime juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the feta begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the chicken to the bowl with the pasta. Add the dressing, blueberries, thyme, lime zest and salt and toss until combined.