You know, I’m not much of a drinker, to tell you the truth.
Every now and then, perhaps on a special occasion, or when my husband and I are looking for purposeful relaxation and are craving slowly sipping on something slightly sweet, fresh and cold while we get lost in a deep conversation, we’ll have a little something-something to wet our whistles and to leisurely enjoy.
And though it is fairly rare that we drink, there are times when my hubs gets into the mood to create a drink for us from his repertoire of cocktails, a repertoire that he gained during his stint tending bar many years back. See, I’m the one that loves to get creative with food; but he loves the artistry of getting creative with drinks every now and then, so being able to use fresh seasonal ingredients makes those cocktails that much more pleasurable.
I must admit that when he puts one of our favorites, the Mojito, together using fresh mint, fresh lime, a touch of sweetness and some good rum, I just can’t turn it down. Wonderfully cool, it’s the perfect tangy-sweet and refreshing drink to enjoy in the spring and summertime—such a treat!
Just the thought of a mojito right now makes my mouth water slightly, and my lips pucker up a little. The enticement happens first with the sweet scent of the drink, before any of it even glosses the lips. I love the aroma and tangy flavor of lime, and pairing it with the sweetness of fresh mint is pure deliciousness.
See, these are the flavors of a warm season; they’re the cooling ingredients that invigorate our tastebuds, and brighten up our souls. And they also beautifully inspire a simple and savory salad, full of lots of green hues that mingle so well with these flavors, a “Mojito” Grilled Chicken Salad with Lime & Fresh Mint Vinaigrette. Fresh, summery and boldly beautiful.
Sometimes there are those seasonal ingredients that organically lend themselves to both the sweet and the savory side of things; to both a drink and a meal. And I can’t think of a better season to enjoy the colorful offerings of the produce isle—the leafy greens, the little red cherry tomatoes, the creamy, ripe avocados, the limes and the fresh herbs—than this time of year.
Perhaps now’s the perfect time to slow things down a bit; to enjoy a leisurely and refreshing drink made with the best, most simple and fresh ingredients; and enliven ourselves with a cool and light salad. I suppose it’s just a matter of listening to the whisperings of a summery spirit, and letting those whisperings inspire us a bit.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
“Mojito” Grilled Chicken Salad with Lime & Fresh Mint Vinaigrette, Avocado and Greens with Tortilla Strips & Cherry Tomatoes
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 2-4
• 2 small bags of your favorite greens (I used arugula and a “power green” mix of baby kale, spinach, and chard), about 10 ounces total
• 2 grilled skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
• ½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
• Lime & Fresh Mint Vinaigrette (recipe below)
• 1 ripe avocado, sliced
• ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
• 1 cup crispy tortilla strips, or crumbled tortilla chips (*see note below)
• 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint, for garnish
(*You can prepare your own tortilla strips by heating some oil in a pan, and adding in cut-up corn tortillas; fry for about 1-2 minutes, or until crispy and golden; drain on paper towel.)
-Add the greens, the sliced chicken and the sliced cherry tomatoes to a large bowl, and drizzle some of the Lime & Fresh Mint Vinaigrette in, reserving a little to drizzle over top of the plated salads; toss to combine.
-To serve, add the salad to a large plate or bowl, and top with a few slices of avocado, some crumbled feta and about ¼ cup of the crispy tortilla strips; drizzle a bit more of dressing over the avocado slices, and sprinkle some the fresh mint as garnish; serve immediately.
Lime & Fresh Mint Vinaigrette Ingredients:
• ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3-4 limes)
• 2 tablespoons agave
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 1 lime)
• 10 large, fresh mint leaves
• 1 garlic clove
• ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ½ cup canola oil
-Add all ingredients through the Dijon mustard to the bowl of a food processor, and process until combined; then, slowly drizzle in the canola oil until incorporated and blended; best if used immediately, but you can keep it covered and in fridge for a day or so.