The life on a diet is boring and full of denial. All the calorie counting is making me crave fattening, salty, starchy, and gooey food. Since the investment in my closet that now feels very tight is a great motivator, I look for new ways to entertain my palate. Salads don’t have to boring, they don’t have to taste like rabbit food and they can certainly lift your dieting mood if you use a little imagination.
This one is a crowd pleaser. It delivers a balanced meal with mostly light greens, a little crunch and a touch of wonderful protein and there is no butter involved… go figure! Did I mention, it makes a dramatic presentation when served family style?
So treat yourself, maybe not on a Tuesday afternoon, but on a Sunday night, when you are looking for healthier dinner options that will actually make you dread the Monday morning commute a little less.
Mixed Greens Asparagus Bird Nest Salad.
Makes 4 very generous servings at 300 calories each.
4 cups Mixed spinach and arugula greens
Asparagus ( about 20 stalks)
½ cup of roasted hazelnuts roughly chopped
2 bacon strips
2 duck or extra-large chicken eggs*
½ tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs red wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
*Note: I like using the duck eggs for these as they have thicker shells and make for easier peeling.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake the bacon on the cooling rack placed over a baking tray for about 15 min or until crispy. This cooking method will help drip away the bacon fat and will make you feel like the grease super fighting hero.
Prepare the vinegrate dressing by whisking the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper together.
Trim and peel the asparagus. If asparagus happens to be young (very thin strands) it may not need peeling. Place the asparagus in heavily salted boiling water for two minutes and then plunge it into ice cold bath to keep the crunch and color. Dry on a kitchen towel.
Prepare the eggs by gently lowering each into boiling water and boiling for 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes are up, crack the shells gently and place in an ice bath. This will help the very tedious peeling process. The eggs will still be very soft, although the white should be mostly set. Peel gently, trying not to break the yolk.
Toss the greens with crumbled bacon, hazelnuts and the dressing. Arrange on a platter. Arrange the asparagus in a overlapping circle at the edges of the greens, resembling the eggs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper if desired. Place the whole soft boiled eggs inside the “nest” directly on the greens.
Wow your guests by breaking the yolks just as you serve. The warm yolk creates another dressing texture for the salad and provides that gooiness that you have been craving.
Now this semi-diet salad I can eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.