Salads make phenomenal meals. They are easy to assemble, can accommodate pretty much any produce that needs to be used up, and work equally well with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, and blends of cooked and raw. Sprinkle with a little sea salt or fleur de sel, drizzle on some lemon juice and olive oil, toss well, and voilà, you have a delicious and healthy meal in a snap.
This baby kale salad is hearty and nourishing with the addition of chicken and Navy beans. It is perfect for weekends when you have a little passive time on your hands. It’s not difficult to make, but you do need to wait for the chicken to roast and the beans to cook. It might make a great weeknight meal as well, since you can prepare all the ingredients in advance on a Sunday, for example, and then all you would need to do when you are back from work is warm up the chicken and beans in the oven, then assemble.
A word about chickens: not all chickens are created equal. Industrial chickens are raised in deplorable conditions, with no space to roam or engage in natural behaviors, are loaded with antibiotics (to ward off infections from unnatural living conditions and ensure the birds reach maturity much faster than naturally possible leading to antibiotic resistance and environmental damage), are fed caffeine, the active ingredients in Tylenol and Benadryl, and even arsenic as well as genetically modified corn and soy, which all end up in the meat on our plates. And they live horrible, tortured lives. How can a diseased, medicated, stressed and suffering animal be healthy to consume? I don’t believe it can.
What makes for healthier and happier chickens? Chickens that have been raised on organic pasture, as nature intended. Organic pasture isn’t sprayed with pesticides and fungicides that end up on our plates, and chickens that are pasture-raised roam free, are able to engage in natural behaviors such as foraging, grooming, nesting, and dust bathing, are not fed antibiotics and growth hormones, and are much less stressed, ensuring a healthier end product that also happens to taste a heck of a lot better.
For sources of pastured meats (not to be confused with “free range” or “cage-free” which are meaningless labels), ask your local farmer at a farmers’ market, or get more information from Local Harvest or Eat Wild.
Baby kale is perfect in salads when you don’t have a lot of time, because it does not need to be massaged to be palatable (for a tutorial on how to massage more mature kale, please refer back to this video tutorial).
The small Navy beans are great because they cook quickly and are the perfect size for adding to salads or soups. Remember to soak them for at least 12 hours before cooking, as this helps remove the anti-nutrients and phytic acid contained in them. Make a big batch on the weekend, and use it all week long in soups and salads.
Making an herb dressing is a great way to add many health benefits to a salad, as fresh herbs are strong detoxifiers and are loaded with chlorophyll and blood cleansing properties. Use them liberally, but always remember that they are most beneficial in their raw state. So add them to dishes at the end of cooking so as not to damage their fragile nutrition, or use them raw in salads, salad dressings or vegetable juices as boosters.
Check out my recipe for coconut ghee that was just published on MindBodyGreen and take your healthy cooking to the next level! I tell you, it’s the new frontier in natural cooking fats, an easy blend of the goodness of two deliciously healthy and heat-resistant fats. Try it and let me know what you think!
Love and health!
Baby Kale, Navy beans and Roasted Chicken Salad with Garlic Herb Dressing
For the salad:
1/2 cup small Navy beans, soaked overnight
4 chicken legs, skin on, bone in
9 ounces baby kale
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut ghee
fleur de sel or sea salt
For the garlic herb dressing:
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup parsley
1 large bunch chives, roughly chopped
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
1 cup olive oil
black pepper, to taste
Make the salad:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Fill a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil.
Add chicken legs to a roasting pan, skin side up. Spread on the skin about 2 tablespoons ghee. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven until skin is browned, about 40-45 minutes, pausing to baste about halfway through with the pan juices. There should be no pink in the meat. If you are using a meat thermometer, it should read 165ºF when inserted in the thickest part of the chicken legs.
While chicken is cooking, drain and rinse Navy beans. Add to saucepan with boiling water. Cook until soft, skimming any foam that might rise to the top, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Make the dressing:
Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender, and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
Taste and adjust seasonings if need be.
Add a couple tablespoons of dressing to Navy beans and mix well. Set aside.
When chicken is cooked, allow to rest for about 5 minutes, then carve the meat out and set aside. Save the pan juices.
Add the kale to a serving bowl. Drizzle on as much of the dressing as you would like and mix well. Do not over dress.
Add the Navy beans and chicken to the top of the salad. Drizzle on some of the pan juices if desired.