Welp, I hate to break it to you but we thought it was time to take a little break from Fish Week. The heat in the kitchen (and outside) was starting to clash with the constant aroma of fish. So we decided to head to France… by way of this Warm French Chicken Salad.
I’m sure you’ve noticed but I love salads. Especially during the summer when oven time is less and yet the meal is still filling, crisp, and refreshing. Plus heartier foods, although freaking delicious and crave-able around the umpteenth time the temperature hovers around 85 in the house, just dont sit as well as something seasonal and bright.
I do know, however, that many do not share my sentiment. But you guys, veggies are awesome! Especially seasonal, local ones (yay for farmer’s markets!!). Maybe the salads that deter so many people from enjoying them are just so lackluster and boring that they cant help but dislike them. Well I’m here to help. We’re going to dissect the key components of what makes up a truly great salad. Hopefully afterwards you’ll too see the beauty in a salad for dinner.
- A great salad is 100% about the vinaigrette. A flat, unseasoned, boring vinaigrette will kill any ingredient in a salad, no matter how great the ingredient is or how you prepped it. You wouldn’t smoke a pork shoulder for 15 hours without properly seasoning it, right? Same thing with salads. There’s no point in eating either if you dont take the time to season. And all of the seasoning in a salad comes from a salty, briny, in-your-face acidic vinaigrette. When tasted on it’s own the vinaigrette should make your eyes water with tartness, it should be borderline too salty, and you should be able to taste every other ingredient other than the oil (even it’s a good oil). The vegetables will soak up all of that yummy flavoring so do not be shy. I always teach people to test their vinaigrette on a piece of lettuce. If you can taste both the lettuce and the vinaigrette, you’ve made a good vinaigrette.
- Make sure you use the freshest, seasonal ingredients. That doesn’t mean you have to run out and join a CSA or only shop from farmers markets (but if you can, you should!! Buy local and support your farmers!!). But you can pay attention to what looks good at the store. And pay attention to what’s in season. It bothers me when people order a strawberry, cheese, pecan, spinach, blah blah salad in January and wonder why the salad doesn’t taste good. Restaurants (not ones focused on sustainability, mind you) leave those kinds of items on their menus all year round because they’re easy sellers. But that doesn’t mean they’re worth paying for. It’s the same when shopping for your own salad components. CUESA (Gahh, I miss you, San Francisco produce) has an amazingly helpful chart you can use if you’re unfamiliar with the different seasons.
- One major complaint from salad naysayers is that they’re not filling enough. Yes, a salad of nothing but veggies might not be satisfying. So why not add a great Cuban-style pulled chicken or slow roasted salmon (if you’re trying to eat on the healthier side) or a indulgent slice of roasted leg of lamb or brisket (because you’re eating a salad and the calories cancel each other out, right?) then? Add a starchy component, like the roasted potatoes in this Warm French Chicken Salad, and you’ll be good to go! Just filling enough to get you to your next meal without weighing you down.
See, it’s that easy! Give this Warm French Chicken Salad, especially you salad naysayers, and let me know how much you like it! The world needs a few more salad eaters.