Chicken Salad With Fresh Dill

Makes 4 servings

This is a very elegant and subtle offering. Consider adding a few slices of garden-ripened tomatoes alongside the salad.

•1 whole poached chicken

•Salt and freshly ground black pepper

•About ¼ to ½ cup chopped green onion

•About 1 to 2 teaspoons teaspoons fresh snipped dill weed

•Equal amounts of sour cream and mayonnaise

•Fresh salad greens tossed with vinaigrette

•Sliced tomatoes

To poach the chicken, add one whole, uncooked chicken to a pot, filled halfway with water. Throw in some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is done. This can be done 1 to 2 days ahead.

Around dinnertime, and long after the poached chicken has cooled its heels in the fridge, pull enough white and dark meat from the bird to feed 2 to 4 people, and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Season the chicken lightly with a little salt and pepper, added some finely minced green onion, and snipped fresh dill into it, along with enough sour cream and mayonnaise to barely hold the mixture together. You don’t want to drown out the pure flavor of the chicken or dill. In another bowl I tossed together some baby lettuce with a simple vinaigrette. Divided the salad between plates, then cozy a serving of the chicken salad up against the greens, along with tomato slices if they are available.

Mesquite Grilled Chicken Salad With Gruyere, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Aioli With Stone Ground Mustard

Makes 4 servings

•3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

•¼ pound Black Forest ham, deli-sliced, then cut into match-stick size strips

•1½ cups grated Gruyere cheese (or other good-quality Swiss cheese)

•1 sweet red bell pepper, roasted and peeled, then diced (commercially prepared are okay; drain well before dicing)

•½ cup sliced dried tomatoes, drained from the oil (reserve the oil for the vinaigrette recipe)

•1 to 2 tablespoons capers

•Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

•Mixed summer salad greens (I use the inner leaves from a head of romaine, combined with a variety of other fresh greens), broken into bite-sized pieces

•Quick Aioli with Whole Grain Mustard (recipe follows)

Grill chicken over mesquite coals; chill until cool enough to handle (may be prepared up to 48 hours ahead and refrigerated).

Dice the chicken breasts into ¼- to ½-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cut-up chicken with the ham, 1 cup of the cheese, diced bell pepper, sliced dried tomatoes and the capers. Toss with the vinaigrette until all of the ingredients are well coated; chill for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Mixture can be made several hours ahead.

When ready to serve, arrange the greens on individual plates. Distribute the chicken mixture evenly among the salads, arranging it attractively on top of the bed of greens; garnish with a sprinkling of the remaining ½ cup Gruyere. The Aioli with Stone Ground Mustard can be served on the side (in individual ramekins), or you may place a healthy dollop of it on each serving and pass the rest of the sauce in a small bowl.

VINAIGRETTE: In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, freshly ground black pepper, and several dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Blend well with wire whisk. Continue whisking as you add 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the oil from the jar of dried tomatoes. Adjust seasonings, adding additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed. May be prepared several days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using if the olive oil has thickened.

Quick Aioli with Stone Ground Mustard

Makes a scant 1¼ cups

•1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

•3 medium-sized cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

•1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Best Foods)

•1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

•1 tablespoon stone ground mustard (I use Inglehoffer Original Stone Ground Mustard; see note)

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Place the lemon juice and garlic cloves in a blender jar. Now add the mayonnaise and blend, turning the motor on and off and scraping the sides of the blender jar often, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. With the motor running, add the olive oil a teaspoon at a time, giving the sauce a chance to absorb one addition of the oil before adding the next. You might have to stop the motor and give the sauce a brief stir each time.

Scrape the sauce into a small container then stir in the mustard. The sauce will keep for weeks in the refrigerator (just like commercially made mayonnaise).

PESTO VARIATION: At the point when you stir in the stone ground mustard, also stir in 2 tablespoons of pesto (either home made or commercially prepared).

NOTE ON STONE GROUND MUSTARD: The Inglehoffer Original Stone Ground Mustard is prepared by Beaverton Foods in Beaverton. It’s widely distributed, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding it where most mustards are sold. It has a rich mustardy-whole grain character that I love. If unavailable, use another brand that describes itself as being a classic whole grain mustard (which will mean it isn’t too sweet or seasoned in an unusual way).

James Beard’s Wild Rice and Chicken Salad

Makes 4 servings

•4 cups water

•1½ cups wild rice, rinsed

•1 teaspoon salt

•2 cups cut up poached chicken

•½ cup celery, thinly sliced

•1/3 cup parsley, chopped

•¼ cup chopped green onion

•2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

•Tomato wedges and red pepper strips for garnish

•Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe follows)

•Fresh baby greens

In a large heavy saucepan bring to boil the water, rice and salt. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain. Cool the wild rice, then combine with the chicken, celery, pine nuts, parsley, green onions and tarragon. Add most of the vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat the ingredients. Add additional dressing as desired. Garnish with the tomato and red pepper and serve on a bed of fresh baby greens.

Vinaigrette Dressing: Combine 3 tablespoons red or white vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in ½ cup olive oil.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Dressing

Makes 4 servings as an entree

If you like Waldorf salad, you probably won’t like this. Just kidding! Sort of. This is Waldorf salad on vacation in Albuquerque. The hazelnuts complement the feta, apple and cherries. This is one of those great “Ladies Luncheon” sorts of offerings. It would even be a lovely addition to a brunch buffet.

•¾ to 1 cup Chili Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

•4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), grilled, chilled, and cut into bite- sized chunks

•½ cup chopped celery

•¼ cup dried cherries

•½ cup chopped apple

•½ cup chopped roasted and skinned hazelnuts

•Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

•2 cups chopped mixed salad greens

•2 Roma tomatoes, cored and sliced

•½ cup crumbled feta cheese

TO SERVE: Combine the mayonnaise with the chicken, celery, raisins, apples, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Serve on top of mixed greens with sliced tomatoes on the side and a crumbling of feta on top.

CHILE MAYONNAISE: Remove the stems, seeds and ribs from 1 fresh Serrano pepper and ½ fresh jalapeno pepper and coarsely chop. Puree the peppers, 3 cloves peeled garlic and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice in a blender. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl, then whisk in 1 cup mayonnaise. (This makes about 1 1/8 cup)

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