On one of the most beloved & celebratory American holidays, a dark shadow was cast on at least one state yesterday.
The state of Oklahoma lost one their leading men. We lost a Hall of Famer. We lost a figure so entrenched in the hearts of Okies.
We lost Kevin Durant to the team that derailed our 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals. A team that needed no more super power to establish a dominating presence in the NBA. A team notorious for arrogance, low blows, and narcissistic attitudes.
I can speak for the entire state of Oklahoma: It hurts.
It really hurts.
But now we have to do what we’ve always done in the wake of tragedy—move on. Even though the 4th of July will never be the same for a single Oklahoman, we have to start this grieving process and get on about our merry lives.
It’s just like what normally happens after a holiday; after a brief period of celebration, you go right back to your normal daily routine.
So, after drowning my sorrows in mounds of pie, cream corn, chicken spaghetti and burgers—I went to sleep that 4th of July evening. When I awoke, I brushed my teeth, put on my make-up, and went back to reality head first.
I know it can be hard to get out of a post-holiday funk. I lag for days after Christmas. But reality is inevitable and it’s best to rip that Band-Aid off quickly.
I made this salad to help me cope (in a healthy way) with my post-holiday/post-Durant sorrows. I would like to think that it helped, but only time will tell. This salad sure was summery, and bright, and colorful—all things that I needed at this very specific time in my life. The green spinach shimmers with the oil-and-vinegar dressing, and the crisp red onion sends every bite into a blissful oblivion.
Try this salad to get over the hump. To cheer up, buttercup. It might be just what the doctor ordered.
Chicken & Tortellini Spinach Salad
- 1 large (2o oz) pkg multicolored tortellini
- 1 lb. chicken breast tenderloin, cut into strips
- salt, pepper and paprika for seasoning
- 12 oz. fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBS. tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/8 tsp. salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Cooke tortellini according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 TBS. olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken tenderloin strips with salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook chicken, turning once, for 6-8 minutes or until juices run clear.
- In a large bowl, combine the spinach, chicken, onion, cranberries, & feta. Toss in the drained tortellini. Toss salad well to combine.
- Make the vinaigrette: In a small owl, whisk the oil, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper. Pour over spinach mixture and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Pro-Tip: When dressing a salad, pour the dressing around the edges of the bowl. This makes the dressing not sink to one spot (the middle) of the bowl, and makes coating salad evenly a lot easier. When I found out this pro-tip, it changed my life!
I love how this salad combines every single food group. Is it really that healthy? Probably not what with the cheese and pasta. Is it delicious and does it make you feel good? Yes, a thousand times YES. I feel much better about myself eating away the pain with salad as opposed to, oh, I don’t know—fried chicken.