My body was none too pleased with me when I woke up on Saturday morning. While I regularly give it a good old smack on the behind with the sugary treats I enjoy, it's not used to being invaded by fried food, rendered pork fat and at least a cube of butter. My dinner at Animal the night before had shocked it into a carcass of miserable lethargy -- a state that could only be corrected by masochistic exercising and the exorbitant consumption of fruits and vegetables.
An early morning jaunt out to the Santa Monica bike path for an eight mile run by the beach took care of the former, and I began working on the latter with a healthy banana yogurt parfait for breakfast. With two servings of fruit quite literally under my belt, my lunch would need to focus in on the whole leafy greens part. I'd been wanting to recreate my mother and my favorite salad at Quattro Cafe in Santa Ana for some time, and Saturday seemed like the ideal day to see how close I could come to the restaurant's Di Mais salad with mixed baby greens, corn, strawberries, feta, and balsamic vinegar.
The execution of the dish was somewhat hindered by my lack of a grill pan for the grilled chicken I wanted to add for proper body fuelage after my long run, but it was nothing that a trip to Target couldn't solve. $99 worth of paper towels, magic toilet cleaning wands, miniature toiletries, and the aforementioned grill pan later, I was ready to make my lunch.
I attacked the dressing/marinade first -- throwing in balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, agave nectar, olive oil and salt and pepper until it tasted Goldilocks & the Three Bears juuuust right, and then used half to marinate my chicken breast. I set the chicken aside, and then began prepping my other fixings. I sliced the strawberries into thin pieces, sneaking the biggest one in the carton for a little "amuse bouche," and husked my ear of fresh white corn before steaming it in a large pot until slightly tender. I ran the ear under cold water until it was cool enough to work with and then used a sharp knife to cut the kernels off. I tossed the corn and half the strawberries into a bowl with my field greens, and then placed the other half of the strawberries in a decorative border around the interior rim of my plate. I smiled at my handiwork -- after a couple weeks of eating my standby, ho-hum meals, I knew it was the perfect way to hit my blog up with a fab new recipe.
When my chicken was no longer pink and the potential carrier of food borne disease, I sliced it into visually appealing pieces, tossed my greens, corn and strawberries with the balsamic dressing and then served it on my strawberry-lined plate with the chicken and feta sprinkled over the top. The result was not only aesthetically-pleasing, but pretty darn scrumptious for a "cleanse" meal. The sweet strawberries paired really well with the tangy dressing and savory corn (just like the version at Quattro), and my grilled chicken breast was moist and tender courtesy of my new "welcome back to the kitchen" grill pan. The whole affair sort of makes me wish every Saturday could be a "cleanse" day. Especially if it means eating rendered pork fat at Animal the night before...