While we were on our last RV camping trip to Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington (remind me to tell you someday about watching a rattlesnake being killed on the site across from ours) I decided that upon our return I would start working on summer salads perfect for taking on picnics. (And no, none of them include baked rattlesnake even though I’ve heard it tastes a lot like chicken.)
So last evening I prepared this salad. (Unfortunately we couldn’t get away for an actual picnic because of time restrictions and uncooperative weather, but none the less we persevered.)
Anyway, this salad was just plain delicious. Mr. C. really loved it. (I think it’s probably the crispy prosciutto that really won him over.) Regardless, he said he could eat it any old time I wanted to fix it. (Always a good indication that he really likes something.) And truly, what’s not to like? The salad in and of itself is wonderful. But when topped with moist and tender chicken, crisp prosciutto, shaved Parmesan, and croutons, well it’s just a flavor burst with every bite. And, a meal unto itself. (I’m getting fonder and fonder of one dish meals. Part of getting older I’m sure!)
So while it’s still summer, whip up one of these salads and dine al fresco. Doesn’t need to be up in the mountains or next to water. Can be on your deck, patio, or lanai. Anywhere that reminds you that summer is the bomb. (Of course, if you live in a South Western state and the air temperature is 118F, you might want to stay inside cuddled up to your air conditioner.) But for those of us that live for long days, no rain, and temperatures in the 70s, it’s outside dining as much as possible.
So enjoy the rest of your summer. Stay cool. Go on picnics. Eat salads. (That’s my bonus recipe for a wonderful way to stay both healthy and happy.)
- 1 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 T. minced shallots
- ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
- cooking spray
- 4 thin slices prosciutto
- 4 c. baby arugula
- 1 romaine heart, chopped
- ½ c. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed or shredded (I use my recipe for Baked Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (see recipe below) or when I’m feeling lazy, one of the chicken breasts from a Costco rotisserie chicken)
- 1/3 c. shaved Parmesan, Asiago, or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 c. croutons (see recipe below if you want to make your own croutons)
Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and shallots. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified and thickened. Adjust seasoning. Set aside.
Spray a small amount of cooking spray on a medium sized fry pan or griddle. Add prosciutto; sauté over medium heat for about 4 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. When cool break into bite sized pieces.
When ready to serve, toss together the arugula, romaine, tomatoes, and chicken in a medium sized salad bowl. Add enough dressing to moisten the ingredients, but not drown them. (You may have extra dressing. All the better to use on another salad later in the week.) Scoop onto 2 dinner plates. Sprinkle on the cooked chicken, crispy prosciutto, shaved cheese, and croutons. Serve immediately.
This dish is loosely based on a recipe in the Cooking Light magazine.
BAKED BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS
- 1 qt. warm water
- ¼ c. kosher salt
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 1 T. brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
- 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. seasoned salt
- freshly grated black pepper
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic
- 1 tsp. paprika
Combine the warm water, kosher salt, peppercorns, brown sugar, and garlic cloves in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Whisk the mixture until it looks like most of the salt is dissolved. Add the 8 pieces of chicken breast and let them sit in the mixture for 30 minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat as dry as possible with paper towels.
Using the same pan, washed and dried of course, place the chicken breasts in a single layer. Pour on the olive oil. Using your hands, best tool in the kitchen BTW, massage the oil all over the chicken. Wash your hands and mix together the seasoned salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and paprika. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken.
Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. If you use an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature at the thickest part of the breast, it should read about 170 degrees. Remove from oven, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.
Chop up some small bite sized pieces of a chewy, artisan baguette. Place in a frying pan with butter or olive oil (or a combination) and sauté until each crouton is crunchy. (This takes about 45 minutes because you need to go low (heat) and slow.) Add more butter or oil as needed. When desired crunchiness is attained, sprinkle with granulated garlic. Allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.