Summer Salads Provide Healthy Nutrients, Great Taste

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SUCCULENT SALAD: Chicken Salad with Roasted Tomatoes provides healthy benefits and a satisfying taste.
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TASTY PASTA DISH: Warm Pasta Salad with Pecans and Spinach is flavorful and nutritious.

Salads are a great way to add satisfying flavor and versatility to a healthy diet. In fact, research has shown that salad eaters consume greater amounts of essential nutrients, including vitamins C and E, and folic acid. The key to a nutritious salad is to build it with healthy ingredients, including pecans.

To find more salad and dressing recipes, visit www.SaladADay.org and www.Dressings-Sauces.org. More information about pecans can be found online at www.ILovePecans.org.

Chicken Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

½ cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
½ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ pound cherry tomatoes
4 cups mixed greens
Red onion slices
Cucumber slices
2 ounces blue cheese, optional
Ranch or balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a bowl, mix pecans, panko, salt, cayenne and black pepper together.

In an ovenproof skillet, melt butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Dredge chicken in pecan-panko mixture. Sauté in skillet until brown on bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn chicken and place skillet in oven. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside. Slice when cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with remaining olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and season with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Divide greens between two plates. Arrange red onion, cucumber, roasted tomatoes and chicken over greens. Top with blue cheese, if desired. Serve with ranch dressing or balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Yields 2 servings.

Romaine, Pecan and Pear Salad

6 cups washed and torn Romaine lettuce
1 cup washed and torn radicchio
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 pears, thinly sliced
1 cup pecans
¾ cup dried cherries
¼ cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing
1/3 cup feta cheese, optional

Place Romaine, radicchio, parsley and shallots in large bowl and toss gently. Arrange pears, pecans and dried cherries over greens. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Top with feta cheese, if desired. Yields 6 servings.

Warm Pasta Salad with Pecans and Spinach

8 ounces rigatoni pasta
¼ cup Italian or Greek dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
5 ounces baby spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup toasted pecans

In a saucepan, cook pasta in 2 quarts boiling, salted water until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer pasta to a large bowl. Add dressing and toss gently. Keep warm.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add spinach and continue sautéing until the spinach just begins to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir sautéd mixture into pasta; add ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Top with toasted pecans. Yields 4 servings.

Salmon Niçoise Salad

1 salmon filet (about 8 ounces)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 lemons, cut in half
6 small red new potatoes
1 cup fresh green beans
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
1 cup pecans
1/3 cup Niçoise olives
2 tablespoons capers
½ cup cherry tomatoes
¼ cup blue cheese dressing

Prepare coals in a barbecue grill. Brush salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill salmon, skin side down, until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Place lemons, cut side down, on grill with salmon and grill until they begin to brown. Remove lemons and salmon from grill and set aside.

Cut potatoes in half and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Steam green beans until just tender. Chill both until ready to use.

Arrange lemons, potatoes, green beans, egg slices and pecans on a serving platter; top with salmon. Arrange olives, capers and tomatoes around salmon. Serve with dressing. Yields 2 servings.