Author: Monda Rosenberg
Looking for a stunning, light, summer dinner? Marry crisp cool greens – or more substantial grains if you want something heartier – with moist chicken, whether it’s pulled from a rotisserie bird, hot off the grill or left over from last night’s feast. Here are some awesome combos to get you started.
1. PARTY COBB
A Cobb salad – not tossed and not shaken – is the perfect choice for a party because it’s laid out in rows so people can choose only the things they love. (Don’t like red onion? Don’t take any!) There are no must-haves – but I have never seen one that didn’t include chicken. Other suspects often appearing in the lineup include crisp romaine, julienned peppers, chopped tomatoes, avocado chunks, cucumber slices, crisp bacon and crunchy croutons. Add a current touch with rows of arugula, roasted peppers, shaved fennel, pickled jalapenos and a mix of olives. Offer at least 3 dressing choices: an ultra-creamy Caesar, a classic vinaigrette laced with fresh herbs and a homemade green goddess dressing.
2. ROYAL CURRIED CHICKEN
There’s something about a curried chicken salad that makes me think of the impressive Taj Mahal. Just mix curry powder or curry paste into mayo, and add some ground cumin for extra oomph. Besides chicken, you must have chopped apple, raisins or dried apricots, diced celery and some chopped almonds. Remember, it gets better if it sits in the refrigerator overnight – making it perfect for lunch boxes. Another road to take is to simply add chicken to last night’s curried cauliflower along with fresh coriander.
3. GRILLED CHICKEN CAESAR
Take your fave Caesar salad and ramp up the flavour and protein quotient by adding slices of hot barbecued chicken, garlic bread that’s been grilled on the BBQ and then cut up into chunky croutons;use prosciutto strips in place of bacon. Oh yes, boost the creamy dressing with anchovy paste, capers and fresh lemon juice.
4. SMART FRUIT & NUT TOSS
Since chicken goes with just about everything, it’s a natural to add chicken chunks to a spinach salad with sliced strawberries, nectarines or peaches. Toss with a honeyandcider vinegar dressing. Scatter with spicy sugared almonds for a healthy crunch.
5. THAI MANGO SALAD
Shred chicken and combine with slivers of mango, shredded carrot, strips of red pepper, fresh mint and coriander. The dressing is important: Combine 2 tbsp (30 mL) each of fish sauce, oil and sugar with the juice of 2 limes. Add some softened rice noodles if you like, or serve on greens.
6. GRILLED VEGETABLE SALAD
You’ve probably cooked up a mess of grilled vegetables before to use as a side dish. Well, add cut-up chicken from pieces that you grilled along with the veggies, then toss it all up with zesty Italian dressing and some torn fresh basil leaves…and dinner’s done! Marvelous warm, at room temperature or chilled.
7. SUPER - GRAINS SALAD
Brighten up cooked quinoa, farro or barley with a sherry-vinegar dressing – and besides tossing in shredded chicken, consider add-ins such as olives, cucumbers, marinated artichokes and sliced cherry tomatoes or halved green grapes
8. ASIAN RICE SALAD
Start with brown or basmati rice. Make an Asian-flavoured dressing with rice vinegar whisked with sesame oil, grated ginger and hot-garlic chili sauce. Add shredded chicken with blanched snow peas, chopped mango or papaya, red peppers and cilantro.
9. SOUVLAKI GREEK SALAD
Take your favourite Greek salad over the top by adding skewers of chicken that you’ve grilled up on the barbecue. Begin by marinating chopped tomatoes and chunks of Greek feta in a garlicky Italian dressing for at least a couple of hours or overnight. Then chop cucumber and add with salad greens and wine-marinated kalamata olives plus lots of fresh mint and fresh oregano. After tossing add the hot barbecued chicken pieces.
10. NOT-SO-CLASSIC NIÇOISE SALAD
Sub chicken for the tuna in a traditional Niçoise salad, and
marinate both the chicken and potatoes in a traditional French vinaigrette livened up with chopped anchovies and lots of capers. Be sure to add tender-crisp green beans. Once you’ve plated the salad, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and serve with slices of olive focaccia bread. Yum!