This is one of a series of dinners that are part of the Six O'Clock Scramble's Family Dinner Challenge.
Aviva Goldfarb, founder of the online meal-planning service Six O'Clock Scramble, has devised a solid game plan for September, when school activities really kick in.
She has compiled research showing that kids and teens who share family dinners at least three nights a week are better off in lots of ways. You'll be able to find a grocery list for each of the recipes featured in this space at www.familydinnerchallenge.com.
Apple, pine nuts, dates and goat cheese give this salad a satisfying sweet-tart crunch. The addition of cooked chicken or chickpeas makes it a main course that can be assembled without powering up any kitchen appliances.
Santa Barbara Salad
Makes about 8 cups (4 servings)
Serve with baked breadsticks.
1 medium shallot (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons raspberry or balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 head Boston or butter lettuce
4 dates, preferably Medjool
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 medium Fuji or Gala apple
1 1/2 cups cooked, skinless chicken breast (may substitute same amount of canned, no-salt-added chickpeas)
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
Mince the shallot and place it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid along with the oil, vinegar and cinnamon. Seal the jar and shake to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad.
Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until they are lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan a few times to avoid scorching. Remove from the heat.
As you prep the following ingredients, transfer them to a large serving bowl: Rinse and dry the lettuce, then tear it into bite-size pieces. Pit, then coarsely chop the dates. Cut each tomato in half. Cut the apple into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut the chicken into strips, or drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add the toasted pine nuts.
Shake the vinaigrette to re-emulsify if needed. Drizzle half of it over the salad and toss gently until well coated. Top with the cheese. Divide the salad at the table; pass the remaining vinaigrette.
NUTRITION Per serving (using chicken and half of the vinaigrette): 290 calories, 21 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 17 g