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Bright Contrasts: Chicken Salad With Cherries

Summer is here and the produce market is once again full of a variety of fresh, luscious and local seasonal fruits. I have been gorging on local raspberries, taking note of apricots and peaches at the market and have even picked a few blueberries from my own bushes in the backyard. And then there are cherries, gorgeous sweet piles of them.

Here's a great main dish salad that makes good use of of the abundant seasonal fruit we are now blessed with. This salad recipe makes quick work of figuring out what's for dinner while offering an interesting way to use leftover chicken. The result is a pleasing summer supper that is bright and fresh.

This salad brings together some delightful contrasts. Cherries offer a luscious sweet counterpoint to the simple taste of chicken, the sharp flavor of the arugula, and the heat of the ginger. They also bring a bright color contrast to the pale creaminess of the chicken breasts and the fresh green of the arugula leaves. Serve it with a loaf of fresh crusty bread and a glass of rosé or sparkling water for a simple and refreshing summer meal.

Chicken Salad with Cherries & Arugula
from "The Oregonian," adapted from "Good Food No Fuss"

4 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb total)
1/2 lb sweet cherries, pitted
4 green onions, sliced thin including tops
1/2 lb arugula, rinsed and dried
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

6 Tablespoons lemon juice (approx. 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized chunks. Mix the cherries with the chicken. Take some of the green pieces of sliced onions and soak them in ice water to use for a garnish, if desired. Add the rest of the sliced green onions to the chicken/cherry mixture. Set aside.

Make the dressing: Whisk the lemon juice, mustard, ginger, ground coriander, salt and pepper in a small bowl until mixed. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Toss the arugula with about a quarter of the dressing, Arrange the greens on four plates. Toss the chicken/cherry mixture with the cilantro and remaining dressing. Pile this mixture on the greens and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Drain the soaked green onion strips and scatter them on top.


~ Instead of using chicken breasts you cook yourself you could easily use a rotisserie chicken from the market to make this salad.

~ I love fresh dressings but if you are in a hurry try substituting a bottled light vinaigrette for the dressing here. You could still whisk the chopped fresh ginger into the vinaigrette before dressing the salad.

~ If you are feeling adventurous try substituting chopped toasted hazelnuts or walnuts for the sesame seeds and/or add bleu cheese crumbles or goat cheese on top.



Alanna Kellogg said...

Lovely, Lis! The cherries here are from -- hmm, somewhere, not sure where -- but they are SO good this year. That means that so far, none have made it out of the hand.

Ivy said...

That looks so refreshing yet filling at the same time. How do you do it? ;)

the southern hostess said...

Yum! This looks fantastic.

grace said...

i can't tell you how excited i've been to see cherries at a reasonable price in the store. this is a marvelous use for them--it's gorgeous!

Cathy said...

What a lovely salad, Lisa. I want to get some cherries before they are gone and try this. I think I'll add some chopped hazelnuts and goat cheese as you suggested.

Allison Jones said...

This looks great! I'm going to be so sad when the cherries are gone... :)