Warming Up to….
With summer just a few degrees away, my dinner cravings take a sharp turn from meat and heavy side dishes cooked in the oven to grilled entrees and creative salads using fresh ingredients, simply prepared.
This salad recipe, from a food feature in The Commercial Appeal, makes the transition beautifully. It uses fresh ingredients, ever mindful of their tender texture and bright appearance, and dresses them with the bold transitional flavor of a country Dijon mustard marinade.
…the Dijon Blues
This is a chicken salad like I have never tasted chicken salad before. Not only does it avoid mayonnaise (a big plus in my book), it uses the sassy sophistication of Dijon mustard to both marinate the chicken and dress the salad. Balancing the bold flavor and earthy color of country Dijon are bright bites of asparagus, slivers of red onion and chunks of bell pepper. To seal the deal these lovely contrasts of flavor and texture are accented with a handful of sharp yet creamy blue cheese crumbles.
Served with a fresh green salad and crusty roll, or alongside a bed of brown rice, Dijon Blue Chicken Salad makes an interesting and satisfying addition to a warm weather menu.
Dijon Blue Chicken Salad
from a recipe by Jennifer Chandler for The Commercial Appeal
3 or 4 servings
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1 lb. pencil-thin asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup sliced red bell pepper
½ cup sliced yellow or orange bell pepper
salt and pepper
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
In a shallow pan, whisk together 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (I like the texture of country Dijon but any Dijon will do).
Add the chicken breasts to the dish, turning to completely coat in the mustard mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile: Cut asparagus into bite sized pieces.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmery. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or two.
Add the onion and bell pepper slices to the skillet. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to cook, season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill over hot coals, or under the broiler, cooking approximately 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through (to an internal temperature of 165F.)
Allow cooked chicken to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly, against the grain. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, asparagus, onion, and bell pepper. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of mustard and 1 Tablespoon of oil. Toss to coat.
Add the blue cheese crumbles. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve salad chilled or at room temperature. It can even be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.