We made this beautiful spring salad with leftover chicken. But it is as flavorful without the meat, or pair it with a slice of farmers bread. This dish is easy to make and delicious—perfect for lunch or a lite dinner. Growing up my mom would often serve a raw salad on the side with meals or as a meal in itself to use up leftover fish or chicken from the night before. She wasted no food in her kitchen—I learned from her how to use leftovers purposely.
Romaine lettuce is one of my favorite greens, and I often consume it during the warmer seasons. It is crispy, full of water content and is rich with wonderful nutrients. Although most leafy greens have a slightly bitter taste, romaine lettuce has a light sweet taste—you might disagree with me. My daughter loves to munch on this raw green vegetable. The mild taste of the spring onion adds a nice punch to the creamy avocado and olive oil. There is this beautiful, simple contrast of a touch of refreshing lemon juice and the richer flavor of the Parmesan cheese that makes this salad deliciously hearty and complete.
I often use extra meat and bones of an oven roasted chicken to compliment this salad—munching on the crispy bones are the best part. I pull the bits of white meat from the chicken bones and lightly sauté them. They are tossed and seasoned with the salad. The bones of the carcass are chopped or broken into smaller pieces and sautéed until crispy brown and softened in a little bit of olive oil. I serve them on the side. Gnawing or eating the softer parts of the bones and its meat is the best part. I know that a lot of people may found this odd or are even squeamish about eating (chicken) bones, but it was part of my regular diet when growing up. We placed great value in consuming the organs of animals, like the kidneys or the liver and the nutritive qualities of the bones—like sucking out the bone marrow. We prepared and used bones in various ways, to make bone stock for soup, or to oven roast or sauté them and make them flavorful soft and chewable.
Over the past years—and probably with the rise of the Paleo diet—I saw a lot of articles talking about the great benefits of bone stock and using protein gelatin as a supplement. It sounded almost like the new food fad or craze that everyone had to try. But eating bone marrow either through stock or gnawing on bones was a staple in our diet to build immunity, fight colds and flu during the winter—my mom made a good old chicken soup. It was considered a vital part of the nutrition of children. I still prefer the boney parts over other cuts of meats. So when I talk about using leftover chicken to compliment this salad, I speak of all parts—nothing gets wasted. If you did not grow up with gnawing or sucking on bones—unless you have chosen to maintain a vegetarian or vegan diet—give it a try. And if you worry about your table manners, sucking on bones and peeling shellfish were an exception of not eating with your fingers at our dinner table. Oh, kick the silver bone marrow spoon to the curb and enjoy your meal!
It is important to mention that we only consume bones from grass-fed, healthy animals (no use of hormones, antibiotics, etc.) to avoid consuming any toxins stored in the bone marrow. I believe it is worth buying less meat but from a high-quality local source to keep my body happy and healthy!