Easy summer salads are the way to go, now that the winter blues are fading into the distance and salad days are here. The best salads are light, bright and easy to prepare.
Who wants to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen when friends are round for lunch, the garden is in bloom and the wine is chilled and ready to pour. But before you start to cook you can save a lot of energy by buying the right ingredients. That way you don’t need the heavy bottled sauces and dressings to make a great flavor. After all you don't want to take a beautiful crisp summer salad and soak it in a mixture of fat, sugar, salt and chemicals do you?
If you start off with great food and don’t do too much to them you don’t need all these strong tastes. All you need is to combine it well so that the flavors work together, have a nice crunchy texture and add a little light dressing to set it all off. Let the taste buds do the rest Freshness is, as in all cooking, the way to a good salad.
Don’t take what the supermarkets give you. Although it’s easier to pick up the ready packed tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers etc. To make sure you get the best, take a minute or two and pick over the vegetables, choose what is firm ripe and ready to use. The same of course applies with meat and fish. There is a reason why supermarkets prepackage, and it’s not always convenience. So choose well, cook quickly and simply and your friends won’t have finished the wine by the time you get there! Enjoy a little bit of summer now with this easy poached chicken salad.
Easy poached chicken salad
4 chicken breasts (skinless)
1 finely sliced red onion
1 whole half onion
4 good ripe tomatoes sliced thickly
250 grams/4ozs salad leaves mixed
4ozs raisins soaked in hot water for ten minutes
1 half lemon
2 fresh or dry bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns black
1 small French, stick loaf or similar sliced at an angle into 1/2 inch slices
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1clove garlic crushed
1/2 dessert spoon Dijon or other mild mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
To make the dressing:
Whisk the vinegar and mustard together with the garlic, slowly add the olive oil while whisking and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the salad:
Bring a pan of water to the boil with the bay leaves, 1/2 white onion, lemon and peppercorns. Carefully add the chicken and simmer gently until cooked, if you are unsure it is worth investing a few dollars in a meat thermometer. The temperature should be at least 75 celcius/167 Fahrenheit, put the sliced bread on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt. Bake in a medium oven until crisp but soft in the middle.
Mix the leaves together with the onions and raisins. Turn in the salad dressing and put into 4 good-sized bowls. Place slices of tomato and bread alternatly around the edge. Slice the warm chicken at an angle and put attractively on top of the salad. Sit back, enjoy and get someone else to do the washing up.
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