This recipe was semi-inspired by the Chinese Chicken Salad at The Cheesecake Factory. I fell in love with dish in eighth grade—it made me feel grown up and sophisticated. Twenty something years later, I still find the salad delicious. It’s sweet, savory, refreshing, and extremely crunchy. (I’m a huge sucker for iceberg lettuce.)
The History of Chinese Chicken Salad
The exact origin of “Chinese Chicken Salad” is unknown. However, legend has it that it was invented in the 1960s at Madam Wu’s in Los Angeles because Cary Grant requested it. Sunset magazine published a recipe in 1970, and Wolfgang Puck created his own version of it in the 80’s.
The salad itself is much more American than it is Chinese. In her book, The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey From Beijing To San Francisco, chef Cecilia Chang says, “In China, lettuce was imported and rare and salads were things that were pickled.” Because my recipe is based on a American chains version of a very American dish, I decided to change the name to more accurately describe what it is: a crunchy salad with chicken and mandarin oranges.
The Crunch Factor
Many restaurant versions of the dish, including The Cheesecake Factory use wonton strips and crispy rice noodles. I sub in a block of broken up ramen—the cheap, dried stuff, not the fresh noodles that come refrigerated. Broken up, the crunchy, wavy noodles act as croutons. The almonds can be easily swapped for cashews or roasted peanuts.
Leftover rotisserie chicken works wonderfully for this recipe, but if you have chicken breasts on hand, follow our easy guide to poaching chicken.
I’m a sucker for the syrupy sweetness you get from a can of mandarin oranges. But fresh mandarin oranges (aka clementines) will add the perfect pop of brightness to your salad.
YIELDS: 8 SERVINGS PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 15 MINS TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 20 MINS
Your search for an easy vegetarian lasagna stops right here! This particular recipe, which features spinach lasagna with a healthy dose of broccoli, three cheeses, basil, and your favorite red sauce (store-bought or homemade marinara sauce work perfectly!) will make you forget all about meat. We opted for frozen veggies because they are already cooked, but you can load this lasagna with other vegetables, too. Sauté peppers and mushrooms, and then stir into your tomato sauce for an extra boost of nutrients. We also picked Pecorino Romano instead of your classic Parmesan for a sharper flavor (no bland vegetarian recipes, thank you very much!). P.S. If you’re looking for the best meat lasagna, try our favorite lasagna with meat sauce.
YIELDS: 4 TOTAL TIME: 0 hours 50 mins
1 10-oz package frozen leaf spinach, thawed
1 10-oz package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 16-oz container part-skim ricotta
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
6 oz. part-skim mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 1/2 c. marinara sauce
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
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Heat oven to 425°F. Squeeze spinach of excess moisture and pat broccoli as dry as possible. Chop both and place in large bowl. Add ricotta, garlic, basil, 1 cup mozzarella, and ¼ cup pecorino and mix to combine.
Spread ½ cup marinara on bottom of 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 noodles. Spread one-third (about ⅓ cup) of remaining sauce over top. Dollop with one-third (about 1 cup) of ricotta mixture. Repeat. Place remaining 2 noodles on top; spread with remaining sauce and dollop with remaining ricotta mixture.
Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and 2 Tbsp pecorino, cover tightly with an oiled piece of foil (to prevent sticking) and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until noodles are tender and top is golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Pepper steak is a stir-fried Chinese American dish consisting of sliced beef steak cooked with sliced bell peppers, bamboo shoots and other seasonings such as soy sauce and ginger, and usually thickened with cornstarch. Sliced onions and bean sprouts are also frequent additions to the recipe.
We’re huge fans of homemade beef and broccoli, but no matter how hard they try, some people can’t seem to convert to the church of broccoli. This is the broccoli-free version of your favorite stir-fry and has quickly become one of our favorits. We like to use both red and green peppers (because they make the dish so dang pretty!), but you can swap in whatever colors you like best. Serve with rice and you’ve got yourself a delicious dinner on the table in no time.
Tried making this awesome dish? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
0HOURS 15 MINS
1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
4 tsp. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. freshly minced ginger
Cooked white rice, for serving
1. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add flank steak, season with salt, and cook until cooked through and seared on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove steak to a plate.
2. Add 1 tablespoon remaining oil and red and green bell peppers to the skillet. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook stirring until fragrant. Return the beef to the skillet and pour over prepared sauce. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is glossy about 2 minutes more.
In my effort to change our eating habits to something a bit healthier than meat and potatoes I make a meatless meal at least once a week. One of my favorites is this Zucchini Stir Fry.
It’s amazing how filling and tasty a simple meal of healthy veggies can be. This week I made this dinner of zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes. It was delicious, my husband loved it. You can serve it with a piece of whole grain bread if you wish; the bread is great for dipping in the juices.
You can also serve this dish as an appetizer or side dish. It’s so good! It goes great with barbecued and roasted meats.
1 large organic zucchini, cut into 2″- 3″ strips
1 cup fresh organic spinach
1/2 cup organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbls. organic coconut oil
1 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. cayenne red pepper
Sea Salt to taste
1. Heat oil over medium heat
2. Add garlic, sauté until it turns golden, stir constantly
3. Add zucchini, cook until it starts to soften about 5-6 minutes, stir constantly
4. Add tomatoes, cook until juices start to come out, stir constantly
5. Add spinach, cook until leaves wilt and turn bright green, stir contantly
Maqluba is a Levantine dish popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine. The name literally means “upside down” because the meat, vegetables, and rice are stacked in a handleless pot to cook, then flipped over and placed on a large tray for serving.
These days Maqluba is described as a one pot dish, which I suppose it could be; assuming you don’t count the pot you stew the meat in, and the pan you fry the veggies in. Not to mention the bowl you soak the rice in, and if you’re adding vermicelli and pine nuts the pan you brown the pasta and nuts in.
Maqluba is very similar to Paella which is also a one pot dish composed of meat or seafood, veggies, and rice. Considering that many parts of Spain was under Moorish rule for a total of about 800 years it would be fair to say that Paella is the Spanish version of Maqluba or vice versa.
It is honestly the only Arabic dish I can claim to have mastered. After years of making Maqluba I’ve finally gotten it right every single time. It’s really not that difficult to make, it’s just tedious due to all the steps in the recipe and the time it takes to make it. If you count the time it takes to soak the rice this dish takes all day to make, at the very least about 3 hours. But it is truly worth the time and effort.
Maqluba is typically made with stewed meat, either lamb, beef, or chicken; fried vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant; and rice. All the ingredients are stacked in that order into a large deep pot preferably without handles. Of course you can omit the meat and make a vegetarian dish.
There are “enhancements” you can add to make the dish fancier. Some folks like to mix vermicelli and even garbanzo beans in the rice before cooking, then sprinkle it with pine nuts before serving. And of course in our family I slip tomato wedges between the meat before cooking, and some of us like to top the cooked dish with corn kernels and plain yogurt. In short I suppose each family has it’s own version on how to cook and eat Maqluba. But one thing is certain, it’s delicious!
Here’s how we make it at our house, but first here’s a quick tip. When making Maqluba use a deeper pot with no handles (a maqluba pot is the best, but hard to find in the US, you may find one at a middle eastern grocery store) and a lid, or a pot with removable handles or handles that aren’t too close to the pot lip. This will make flipping it over easier as handles can block the tray you flip it on to from laying flat on top of the pot. The pot has to be deep enough to layer the ingredients and still have enough space for the rice to expand as it cooks.
4-5 Cups Long Grain Rice
1 Tbs. Turmeric Powder
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
8-10 pieces of meat (lamb, beef, or bone in chicken thighs)
1 Large Onion, cut in chunks
1 Tbs. Garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. + 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. + 1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Box Stock (beef or chicken depending on the meat you use)
1 Large Cauliflower, cut into chunks
1 Large Eggplant, cut into rounds
3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds
Oil for frying
2 Tomatoes cut in wedges
6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained (Optional)
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Optional)
1 Can Corn Kernels (Optional)
1 Cup Fresh Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)
Place rice in a big bowl and cover with water.
Add Turmeric to water and stir until it is evenly distributed and water turns yellow. Set aside for at least 2 hours. Check periodically as the rice will absorb the water. If all the water is absorbed add more and stir.
Heat olive oil in a stock pot.
Saute onions in hot oil until it starts to turn translucent.
Add crushed garlic and cook another minute, stir to keep from burning.
Add meat, 1 Tbs. Cumin, 1 Tsp. Nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook until meat starts to brown.
Add stock and then add water to completely cover the meat.
Let simmer until meat is tender and fully cooked. About 2 hours. Set aside when done.
Meanwhile place about 1″ oil in frying pan.
Fry your veggies until cooked and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
If using Vermicelli and/or Pine Nuts: Melt about 1 tbs. butter in a small frying pan. Add vermicelli and cook until it starts to turn brown, stir constantly to keep from burning. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat this procedure with Pine Nuts.
When ready to stack meat in the pot:
Spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray.
Drain rice then stir in vermicelli noodles and/or garbanzo beans if using.
Starting with the meat, remove meat from pot it was cooked it, reserve the broth do not discard.
Arrange meat at the bottom of the pot.
Slip garlic cloves and tomato wedges between the meat.
Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. nutmeg.
Arrange veggies on top of meat.
Pour rice mixture over the veggies and smooth out to make the top flat.
Gently pour reserved broth over the rice. Fill until the broth just covers the rice, if you don’t have enough broth add water.
Cover with lid and simmer over medium heat until rice is cooked. Check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the liquid has not all evaporated before the rice is cooked. If you need to add more liquid, either broth or water. This takes about 30 minutes.
If the rice is cooked and you still have liquid remove lid and raise the heat for about 5 minutes so that the rest of the liquid evaporates. Be careful not to burn the bottom. Or you can carefully drain extra liquid before flipping.
When rice is cooked and there is no more liquid remove pot from lid. Let rest about 5 minutes.
Flip over onto a large tray.
Garnish with cooked Pine Nuts on the meat if desired.
Serve with bowls of corn kernels and plain yogurt.