So with the arrival of the warm weather, comes the arrival of our staple summer food.
It's filling and substantial and isn't so light and "salad-y" that your hubby won't like it, or be STARVING after dinner. And to be completely honest? It could be one of the most important things that Brian brought to our marriage.
Yes he brought love and commitment and caring and blah blah blah... but really? This salad sits high on his list of "dowry" items. We eat it all summer long. It's easy to grill up extra chicken for leftovers, the usual container of tortellini (if you buy them at costco like we do) is HUMUNGOUS and will make enough for 3 salads and who doesn't love marinated artichoke hearts? Yum. We are lucky since we will have spinach from the garden later to make this with (provided the g-damn birds don't eat it all) but bags of spinach are all you need. There is no measuring and if you don't like something? Take it out. Add something else. Go wild and crazy.
So delicious, so easy and such a sign that summer is on the way and that the rain is finally over! Thank god.
Ingredients - I eyeball most of the measurements... it kind of depends on how many people you are feeding.
Chicken Breasts - I assume about half a chicken breast per person. Trust me, there is a LOT of other stuff in this salad.
Artichoke Hearts (marinated in seasoned oil)
Tortellini (filled with cheese)
The Chicken -
Now we all have our ways of cooking up chicken breasts, but for things like these I try to keep it simple. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a foil lined cookie sheet and season the hell out of them. I use salt and pepper and sometime italian seasoning... go crazy.
Cook them for 25 minutes. Done.
They will look like they aren't cooked (as my mother likes to tell me), but they are. Check them temperature-wise(165) to make sure, but they should be perfectly cooked inside. Let them rest while you prepare the rest of the salad and they will be juicy and delicious when you are ready to slice them. It is the easiest way to make chicken breasts I have ever seen, since you don't have to screw around with the grill or the frying pan. "Set it and forget it".
Now on to the rest.
Wash and spin your spinach. Yes I know the bag says it's triple washed but EW, who wants to take that chance. And spinning it is REALLY important since you don't want wet soggy salad.
Cook up the tortellini as directed. Pot of boiling, salted water, etc. NO OIL. If you don't know how to cook pasta, email me and we'll have a chat.
We normally cook up about half of a container of tortellini. Try to cook it up fairly close to when you make the salad, as the heat of the tortellini softens up the spinach a little bit. But if you want to make this salad WAY ahead of time to take somewhere... cook it up whenever. It's just as delicious either way.
Take your dry spinach and put it into a huge bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients... Toss lightly with the dressing.
You have now fed a small army for just a little bit of money and you will find that you have leftovers for ages.
Enjoy outside on the patio and soak up the summertime.