Soups & Salads

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t remember how I stumbled across this recipe, but I am so glad I did. When I first saw it I knew I needed to make it immediately. The whole concept of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs is genius! Basically the crunchy chicken meatballs take the place of both the croutons and the protein in this Caesar salad. What?! I know, I’m boggling your mind right now.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken meatballs are rolled in crushed croutons before they are baked so they are crispy and full of crouton-y goodness. These are anything but ordinary chicken meatballs. In addition to the crispy exterior, the meatballs are loaded with all the makings of a delicious Caesar salad. Instead of breadcrumbs we use more crushed croutons and instead of egg or oil we use Caesar dressing. There’s also Parmesan and scallions involved.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you can’t find ground chicken you can use ground turkey instead. I’ve made it both ways numerous times and it’s always delicious. If you want to talk about a tried and true recipe, this is it. I’ve been making this dish regularly since 2009; that’s almost 10 years of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatball perfection! I first made it for my roommates and we all devoured it. After college, it was immediately put on Matt’s and my regular dinner rotation and has stayed that way ever since. I especially love this salad when the weather is warm like this and now that we have a big toaster oven I just make them in there instead of heating up the whole kitchen with the oven.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’re having leftovers you can eat them cold, but I always heat the meatballs a little before putting them on top of the salad so you get a nice mix of the warm crunchy meatballs and the cold Caesar salad. Since you are using crouton crumbs both in the meatball and on the outside tasty croutons are key for this recipe. I love the Trader Joe’s cheese and garlic croutons. They are so addictive! When I crush the croutons I like to keep a few bigger chunks since they add to the texture of the crispy outside. You might have noticed from the photos, but the Caesar dressing I usually use isn’t the thick and creamy one you normally see, although you can certainly use that. These were made with the Trader Joe’s Caesar dressing, which is a more oil-based Caesar dressing. Either way, I know they will be delicious!

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1⅓ cup crushed croutons, divided
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons caesar dressing
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
for the salad
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Caesar dressing
  • Additional fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Place 1 cup of the crushed croutons in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, the remaining ⅓ cup of the crushed croutons, scallions, parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper, being sure not to overmix.
  3. Divide the meat mixture into 4 sections. Use each section to roll out 3 chicken meatballs. Roll each meatball in the bowl of crushed croutons before placing on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 chicken meatballs. They are big!
  4. Bake the chicken meatballs for 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and bake for another 15 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the caesar salad. Cut and wash the lettuce then toss with the caesar dressing and extra parmesan cheese. I usually plan on 4 cups of romaine lettuce per person. The amount of dressing and additional Parmesan is up to you!
  6. When the chicken meatballs are cooked, let them cool for 5-7 minutes before serving on top of the caesar salad.

Recipe adapted from blog Canaderican, which no longer exists.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have another healthy make-ahead lunch for you today! Before you run away, healthy can mean super tasty! And kale doesn’t have to mean bitter, especially when it’s been nicely massaged, but I’ll say more on that later. As you know, I only like salads if they have lots of yummy goodies in them and this one delivers. Fresh sweet strawberries, creamy goat cheese and crunchy pecans bring this salad to a scarf-able level. We are still a little early for strawberry season, but as soon as it started feeling like springtime I had to run out to get some to make this salad.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The other star of this dish is the simple, but delicious vinaigrette dressing. Made with just four ingredients the dressing has the right balance of acidity and sweetness to pair with the kale and strawberries. I use my uncle’s awesome homemade honey, but I recommend using local honey since it can help ease seasonal allergies and it supports your local beekeepers!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The reason this salad is a great make-ahead dish is because the kale tastes its best when it’s been given time to marinate in the dressing. Kale is a tough green, but that’s exactly why you have to baby it so much to bring out its best flavor. This is where the massaging comes in. A few years ago when kale was popping up everywhere I tried it at home a bunch of times with little success. Then I was out to dinner with a friend and ordered a kale salad to give it one final shot. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was and when I mentioned this to the waitress she said it was because they massage the kale. Basically, this means ripping and scrunching the kale leaves continuously for about five minutes. Kale is naturally bitter, but massaging it breaks down the cellulose structure wilting and softening the kale.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

One batch makes four lunch salads and sometimes I pair them with grilled chicken or turkey burgers for added protein. I love serving this Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans for cookouts, as well, since you can make it the night before and not have to worry about it while you’re busy with your family and friends. I hope you enjoy this salad all summer long!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces kale
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a small baking sheet then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Toss the pecans once during cooking and be sure to watch carefully so they do not burn. Set aside to cool.
  2. If your kale wasn’t pre-washed, wash and dry it. Remove all thick ribs and stems; roughly chop. Place in a large mixing bowl. Continue to tear and massage the kale for 5 minutes. To massage the kale scrunch it up with both your hands, release, and scrunch up some more, tossing and tearing as you go. This helps tenderize the kale and reduce its bitterness by breaking down the cellulose structure.
  3. Quarter the strawberries. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Add to the kale along with the toasted pecans and goat cheese. Gently toss to combine. Add the dressing and gently toss to coat. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or even better if overnight.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

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New England Harvest Salad

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you heard of Boloco? They are a Boston based burrito joint, but these are not your average Mexican burritos. Self-described as “globally inspired burritos” they take it to the next delicious level with creations like Bangkok Thai, laden with addictive spicy peanut sauce, and the Mediterranean, complete with black bean hummus made in house.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although Boloco, which is a mashup of Boston Local Company, is mostly based in Boston, they do have several locations in Massachusetts outside of Boston and have spots in New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and even Maryland! And in case you were wondering, no Boloco is not paying me for this or even aware I’m writing this blog post, I just love their food that much!

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorites was a recent addition last year: the New England Harvest Salad. I normally don’t get so jazzed up over a salad, but this dish is so outrageously tasty I eventually had to re-create it myself. This here is a sautéed kale salad topped with quinoa, roasted squash and fresh cranberries, shredded beets, roasted balsamic mushrooms (told you those bad boys were going to make an appearance!) and goat cheese.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you told me I could only eat one salad for the rest of my life I would pick this one without even hesitating. In addition to the addictive mouthwatering qualities of this salad, which caused it to never even make it to the table and instead be eaten standing at the counter, this salad is healthy. Just look at all those superfoods!

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since all the components are warm, other than the shredded beets and goat cheese, I made extra so all Matt and I had to do was throw the leftovers in the microwave the next day then top with the cold ingredients for a quick, healthy and satisfying dinner.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

New England Harvest Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces peeled and cut butternut squash (1” cubes)
  • ⅔ cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces roughly chopped kale, hard stems removed
  • 1 small red beet
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 batch Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and set aside.
  2. Toss the squash and cranberries with the 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil then place on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  3. Meanwhile heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale and half a cup water. Cook until the kale is tender and the water has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Peel the beet with a vegetable peeler then grate with a microplane. Set aside.
  5. To plate the salad first layer the kale. Top with the quinoa, followed by the shredded beets, balsamic roasted mushrooms and the roasted squash and cranberries. Finish by sprinkling with the goat cheese. Serve warm.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

To me, the ultimate telling of a great salad is that it doesn’t seem like you are eating a salad. It doesn’t taste diet-y or as though all you’re doing is consuming a large bowl of raw vegetables like a rabbit raiding the produce aisle.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It simply tastes like a really delicious dish. The flavors are well-balanced and the textures vary. Extra bonus points if there are both hot and cold components.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This warm lemon and mustard potato salad hits all the marks on my great salad scale. The key to this meal-worthy salad is that the potatoes aren’t just average roasted potatoes. Before being placed in the oven to get nice and crispy, the potatoes are tossed with a lemon and mustard vinaigrette.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tart, tangy and creamy, these potatoes are even better when combined with the freshness of the salad greens and the nuttiness of the walnuts. This dish is great for a vegetarian main dish or an elevated first course that will have your guests requesting the recipe.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the dressing
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
for the salad
  • 1½ pounds baby red-skinned potatoes, halves
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the mustard, parsley, zest, juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 3 tablespoons of the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
for the salad
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add the potatoes to the large bowl with the dressing and toss until coated. Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy.
  3. When ready to serve, toss the bell pepper and greens with the reserved dressing. Place on the serving dish then top with the roasted potatoes and toasted walnut pieces.

Recipe from Giada’s Feel Good Food.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My brother and I are very different from one another, but there is definitely one thing we have in common: we both LOVE to eat. We also share a lot of favorite foods. I’m talking to you macaroni and cheese, sushi, and asparagus!

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another item high on the list is smoked salmon. Man, we can seriously chow down on smoked salmon. Toss us a platter with toast, hard boiled egg and some red onion and we are very, very happy campers. Or happy diners. I wouldn’t suggest bringing a smoked salmon platter camping, but that’s just me. When the two of us walk into a buffet we… oh you got the point already? Okay then, I promise all this raving about our cravings has a point.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

And it is this amazing smoked salmon salad. All the balanced flavors you love from a traditional smoked salmon platter with an added freshness. Refreshing leafy greens are piled with salty smoked salmon, fluffy hard boiled egg crumbles, crunchy mini pumpernickel croutons and red onion.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The whole salad is lightly drizzled with a lemon and shallot vinaigrette that brings an extra pop of acidity and brightness to the dish.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

So a special happy early birthday to my brother who inspired this outrageous dish! I hope you get to eat all your favorites on your birthday.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Smoked Salmon Salad
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ⅔ cup ½ inch cubes of pumpernickel bread
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon slices
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled with a fork
  • Thinly sliced red onion
for the dressing
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon capers, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Very lightly toss the bread cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place evenly on a pan and cook until crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the greens on a medium serving bowl or platter. Layer the smoked salmon, hard boiled egg crumbles and sliced red onion on top. Drizzle the salad dressing on top then serve.
for the dressing
  1. Combine the shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, parsley and capers, if using, in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.