I'm not going to pretend I totally know what I'm doing in the kitchen.
Before I got married, I promised Ryan that I'd have a good meal on the table every night. I talked a big talk. And then I got married, and had a job working 12-14 hours most days, and there was simply NO TIME to make a good meal every night. We had frozen pizza twice a week, probably. And then I quit that wretched job. And suddenly I was supposed to make dinner every night! And I realized I had no idea how difficult that really was! And whoops!
I'm still learning my way around the kitchen-- making weekly menus, having a stocked pantry, using things up before they go bad, remembering to write down the meals that work and cut recipes in half so we're not eating leftover pot roast risotto four nights in a row. I call my mom with food questions so often that that I'm pretty sure it's become a joke between my parents. ("It's Amelia with a FOOD question again," says my dad as he passes the phone over to my mom. And then I hear them roll their eyes at each other.) I've slightly, slightly, improved my skills over the months, and I still have a strong desire to learn more. So that's good, right? Someday I'll be a delicious mix of Martha Stewart and Ina Garten! Someday!
What I'm trying to say is this: I made up (with my own brain!) a salad over the weekend that I think turned out pretty tasty. I'm no expert, and it's possible that this is just a crappy version of a real salad with a real name. But I made it all on my own without a recipe, and my hard-to-please pregnant taste buds voted that it's good. Real good. So I'm sharing it on my blog.
Step 1: Get yourself some ingredients. I used peppers, zucchini, black olives, grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and 2 leftover cooked chicken breasts.
Step 2: Chop 'em up.
Step 3: Put your roast-able veggies (peppers and zucchini) on a baking sheet. Add a couple glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper, and whatever herbs you like. I used fresh parsley and basil because that's what I had on hand. But add whatever else you like, man. Onions! Garlic! Mushrooms! Dried herbs! Who even cares! Oh, and then toss your veggies with the oil and seasonings.
Step 4: Put the baking sheet into a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, tossing again about halfway through.
You want your veggies to be soft and juicy, but not super mushy, you know?
Step 5: Let your roasted veggies cool off for about 5 minutes. Then, in a big bowl, toss your roasted veggies with the chicken and the other veggies you chopped but didn't roast (the olives, tomatoes, and artichokes.) Be sure to add all the oil and juices from the roasted veggies, because that's where the flavor is, guys! And it's important to do this while things are still warm, I think-- it softens the tomatoes perfectly, and makes everything super tasty.
Step 6: Taste it. Observe. What does it need? I added a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper, and the juice from half a lemon to freshen things up. And then it's done!
Serve it up with a sprig of fresh parsley if you're feeling fancy. I ate it when it was cooled off, kind of lukewarm temperature, but I've been eating the leftovers cold and it's still good. The best part about this recipe is that it's really easy and super versatile-- use whatever veggies you have in the fridge, or make it vegetarian, or add quinoa, or (if you're not pregnant) feta cheese. Oh feta cheese. I'd have added the feta if I coulda.
And to make things easier for everybody, here's the recipe written down in real, official recipe form, exactly the way I did it:
Roasted Veggie Summer Salad
2-3 peppers (I used green, orange, and yellow)
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
a handful of grape tomatoes
a handful of black olives
2 cooked chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
a few tablespoons of chopped parsley and basil
the juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop your ingredients into bite-sized chunks. In a shallow baking sheet, toss the zucchini and peppers with the olive oil, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing again halfway through. Remove from oven when the veggies are soft and juicy, but still somewhat firm. Let cool for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, toss the roasted veggies with the remaining ingredients, being sure to add all of the oil and juices from the pan. Drizzle with lemon juice. Add more olive oil and salt and pepper if needed.
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