Summer's heat has descended on the Portland area this week. Everywhere I go people are trying to outdo each other in relating the dire forecasts they have heard for a record breaking heatwave in the days to come. I smile and nod my head trying to suppress my happy dance. I know it's not a popular sentiment but I love this weather!
Hot summer weather can't help but remind me of wonderful adventures, tasty meals and delightful conversations. It reminds me of childhood summers, before air conditioning, when the temperatures in Kentucky would soar into the 90's and the humidity would try to match it, leaving a heavy stickiness in the air. Then we sank beneath the weight of the heat into the deep shade of the locust trees out back with big glasses of iced drinks and dreams of cold salads with fried chicken and a tub of ice cream being churned in a freezer.
That kind of heat is rarer in this part of the country. In fact heat waves of any kind are rare enough that I look forward to them. Still it's no lie that I don't want to turn on the oven in the afternoon or hover over the stove either. Salads are especially appealing at this time of year and the less cooking involved in making them the better.
A New Summer Recipe
Here's my latest creation using fresh summer blueberries and basil from my garden. I added a little fresh ginger and some minced shallots for interest and some sliced almonds for texture. If you want to cook some chicken it can be diced to make a prettier salad to serve on a bed of dressed arugula or baby greens. Especially at this time of year, I find rotisserie chickens from the deli department at local grocery chains to be an economical no cook alternative to cooking the chicken myself. The moist meat, when shredded, holds together well for making chicken salad sandwiches.
As my regular readers must know by now I have something of a mayo phobia. I needed an alternative to hold this salad together. The easy solution was to reach in the refrigerator for a bottle of my favorite Newman's Own light vinaigrette dressing. I used Light Italian Dressing this time, but have also used Light Balsamic Vinaigrette and think the Light Cranberry Walnut Dressing sounds like it would be delicious too. Use one of these or your own favorite homemade vinaigrette.
Then serve on your choice of bread. I used my favorite Franz Oregon Bread Western Hazelnut, toasted. Western Hazelnut Bread is a delicious loaf made with Hazelnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, Flax and other seeds. It has a lot of texture and a terrific taste.
Blueberry Chicken Salad
2 cups shredded chicken (I used leftovers from a rotisserie chicken I served the night before)
1 cup blueberries, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
1 Tablespoon shallots, finely minced
I Tablespoon chopped basil
pinch of salt
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted (or use pistachios if you like)
¼ cup vinaigrette dressing (I used Paul Newman’s Light Italian Dressing but use your favorite)
Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Serve on salad greens or on sandwiches.