Feeling Like Fall?
I’ve always regarded Columbus Day with sleepy indifference; growing up, it was just a Monday we didn’t have to go to school. More recently, though, it has felt like the true starting pistol of fall. It marks the return of cable-knit sweaters, faux spider webs, and decorative gourds—so many decorative gourds. More importantly, however, a new season means new recipes. Food blogs are now posting photos of soups in arrays of autumnal colors, and articles like, “25 New Ways to Use Acorn Squash!” Perhaps most tellingly, the hashtag “pumpkinspicelatte” is trending on Instagram. I’ve even seen a couple places jump the gun and gear up for Thanksgiving; my local grocery store is sporting a paper turkey above the deli meats.
While all signs point toward fall foods, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have consulted a calendar recently. It’s 68 and sunny in New York, and sadly, my slow cooker is still in the back of the cupboard under a precarious-looking pile of pots and pans.
What does one cook in this confusing climate? I consulted Catherine Walther’s Raising the Salad Bar, and stumbled upon her superb recipe for Provençal chicken salad with roasted peppers and artichokes. It provides the exact balance need for this weather: the heartiness of comfort food, but with bright, summery flavors. Check it out, and enjoy the long weekend, folks! Hopefully we’ll be able to break out the slow cookers in time for the next federal holiday.
Provençal Chicken Salad with Roasted Peppers and Artichokes
With bits of sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichokes and olives, this chicken salad makes a great presentation and tastes fantastic. A little shaved Parmesan or fresh mozzarella could be added, if desired. Serve with some crusty or peasant-style bread.
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pitted French green olives, sliced lengthwise into quarters
3 tablespoons minced parsley
4 cups mixed baby lettuce greens, washed and dried
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes and mince them. Rinse the artichoke hearts and cut into quarters, then pat dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat a stovetop grill pan, outdoor grill or skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tenderloins from the chicken breasts and pound the chicken to an even thickness. Oil the grill and either grill or sauté the chicken about 4 or 5 minutes on each side until just cooked. When cool enough to handle, slice into 1/2-inch wide strips.
3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pepper, artichoke hearts, olives and parsley.
4. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients; season with pepper. Just before serving, whisk dressing again and combine it with the chicken salad.
5. To serve, place baby greens on a large platter and top with the chicken salad or serve individually with a bed of greens on each plate. The vinaigrette from the salad will seep through to flavor the greens below.
To serve this as a vegetarian meal, omit the chicken and substitute just grilled or roasted vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant. Use fresh tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes if they’re in season. Try different herbs such as chives, basil and dill along with, or instead of, parsley.
Charlotte Dillon is an intern at Lake Isle Press.