Green Salad with Chicken plus Fresh Fruit and Herb Dressing
Think you can’t cook? This recipe’s great flavor comes not from fancy cooking skills but simply from good ingredients. Stellar ingredients make a cook’s life easy! So be sure to read the Buying Notes for each ingredient to help you get the best.
The combination of apricots and basil is as lovely to look at as it is to eat.
Step 1 Make the Dressing
If you can dump things into a blender and push a button, you can make this dressing:
- 3/4 cup fresh apricot-strawberry puree (from about 3 apricots and 6-8 small strawberries)
- 2 Tbsp. walnut oil (or high quality olive oil)
- 1 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar (if you don’t have some, it’s worth stocking)
- Double handful of fresh basil leaves (see picture)
- Single handful of fresh parsley (see picture)
- Just a small spoonful of fresh tarragon leaves (they are a lot stronger than basil and parsley)
- Sea salt (start with 1/4 tsp.)
- Freshly ground pepper (start with 1/8 tsp.)
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
Directions Combine everything in the cup of an
A double handful of basil
immersion blender (or food processor or blender) and process for just 20-30 seconds to combine. Now comes the most critical step: TASTE. For ANY recipe, there is a 90% chance that the flavors need to be adjusted to suit your taste buds. So pour the dressing into a small bowl, dip a piece of lettuce into it and taste. Stir in more salt and pepper first, then more chopped basil, parsley or vinegar to find a taste that is good to you. Always go slowly and taste after each addition.
Serve dressing at room temperature. To my taste buds, fruits taste better when they aren’t chilled.
Buying Notes Flavor-less fruit = flavor-less dressing. For fruit that taste like fruit not
A single handful of parsley
cardboard, head straight to the source: the grower, usually an organic one. Next, taste before buying very much. If the grower doesn’t offer samples, buy just one piece and taste. Once home, let stone fruits like apricots and peaches ripen. Doing so in paper bags is often recommended. Let the fruit get pretty soft, since that point, just before it goes overboard, yields flavor most reminiscent of heaven. Keep a close eye on the fruit (especially if it’s hidden in paper bags!) and keep tasting each day, watching for optimal flavor.
Variations Could be equally good with whatever fruit is in season: sweet cherries and apricots, peaches and raspberries, or pears and raspberries.
A small spoonful of tarragon leaves
Step 2 Make the Green Salad
- 4-6 cups very fresh lettuce, washed and torn (or cut with a serrated knife if you’re in a hurry)
- 1-2 med. carrots, grated finely
Directions Nothing too complicated about this step, although it does help to wash the lettuce in a good salad spinner, so you end up with crispy, not soggy lettuce. Another trick: Wash the lettuce the night before. Place in salad storer, cover with a clean, folded tea towel, then seal and refrigerate until the next day. The tea towel extracts excess water, leaving the lettuce crispy and light.
For the carrots, grate using the fine hole on your box grater for something different.
Buying Notes A salad is only as good as its greens. They need to taste fairly good on their own, so the dressing is just enhancing flavor, not making up for an absence thereof. Good lettuce is where local farmer’s markets shine, since lettuce is a crop that really tastes best when fresh picked–so good you barely even need dressing, if you can believe it.
In mid-summer, finding good lettuce can be tricky, since it’s is a cool weather crop. I always taste a bit before investing in a bag to make sure it’s not bitter. Also look for farmers who have taken steps to work around the heat issue, like Oxford Gardens at the Boulder Farmers’ Market, where owner Peter Volz sells a heat-tolerant variety that is quite good. Abbondanza, also at the Boulder Market, seems to have perfected a technique for hot-weather lettuce growing as I’ve gotten great lettuce there even in July and August.
Step 3 Add Chicken to the Salad
- 1-2 cups chicken, shredded or cut into small pieces
Buying Notes Again, this is another simple step with finding good chicken being the only tricky part , since not all store chickens are not created equally. Again, it is usually local and/or organic birds that have more flavor. This salad is a great way to use of leftover bits and pieces. If you don’t have any however, then try canned chicken for a highly convenient option. Before you blanch at the thought of canned bird, read the next blog entry on two, surprisingly taste brands I’ve recently discovered.
Want to learn more about the little tricks and tips that make everyday good meal making natural, stress-free and even a little creative? Join Mary Collette in one of her Whole Kitchen Way to Wholesome Meal Making classes.
Filed under: Cooking, Grocery Shopping, Herbs & Spices, Recipes, Vegetable-a-Month, Whole Kitchen | Tagged: Apricots, Basil, Fresh herbs, Good Ingredients, Grocery Shopping, Immersion Blender, Local and Sustainable Eating, Parsley, Salad Dressings, Strawberries, Tarragon, Using Fresh Herbs | 1 Comment »