Watermelon plays nice with chicken

 There’s been so much tasty goodness this summer.  This was another popular food porn shot receiving multiple recipe requests.  The tangy lime dressing is so refreshing with the watermelon.

This is a great example of how you can turn a salad into a meal by combining it with a protein, in this case, a foolproof (always juicy, never dried-out and rubbery)  grilled chipotle-lime chicken recipe from Cooks Illustrated (subscription required)

I’m trying to eat more greens, so I tend to always have clamshells of organic arugula or mixed greens in the fridge.  A handful goes on the plate first, and then I just lay the salad on top

Watermelon Feta & Mint Salad with Chipotle-Lime Grilled Chicken

  • Make ahead: the grilled chicken (I make a huge double batch and use it throughout the week, good for 4 days in the fridge and much longer in freezer )
  • Prep time: 15 minutes for watermelon salad, 1 hour for the grilled chicken
  • Serves 4
  • Ingredients:
    • Chicken (for each 1.5-2 lbs of skinless chicken breasts)
      • Marinade: whisk together 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice, 1 tsp sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 3 cloves minces garlic.
      • Sauce (this sauce is awesome, and perfect if you’re having the chicken by itself, otherwise you can omit for this recipe): whisk together 3 Tbsp EVOO, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp minced chipotle chile, 2 Tbsp  cilantro leaves, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
    •  Dressing
      • 1/2 cup mint leaves
      • 1 serrano chile (seeded and minced) or 1/2 tsp red chile flakes
      • 1 Tbsp  honey
      • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
      • 1 Tbsp lime juice
      • 3 Tbsp EVOO
      • Salt & pepper
    • Salad
      • 1/4 cup mint leaves
      • Seedless watermelon about 3lb, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
      • 6 oz feta crumbled
  • Preparation
    • Charcoal grill: if using (you can also broil the chicken if you’re in a hurry), fill and light the chimney starter,  then make a two level fire – all charcoal on 1 side.
      • I like using smoker chips.  Add 1 cup of Hickory chips to 2 cups of water before starting the grill (they need about 30 minutes of soaking).  Add to the charcoal after its gone white, then add the grate back in
    • Chicken:
      • Make the marinade and pour into a gallon size zip-loc freezer bag
      • Add the chicken and massage around, squeeze out the air, seal the bag and put in the fridge for 15 minutes (I usually do this after starting the grill)
      • After 15 minutes flip the bag, and leave for another 15 minutes (total of 30 minutes)
      • Use a wad of paper towels with oil on them to grease the grate just prior to adding the chicken to the side withOUT the coals.
      • Grill 5-7 minutes each side on the cool side with the lid on (until chicken goes white, maybe some minor brown marks)
      • Move chicken to the hot side (where the coals are) and add some color (grill marks) about 2 minutes each side
      • Use an instant read thermometer (you’re good once it reads 135 degrees in the thickest part, and get it off straight away if you’ve topped 150! If you’re using a broiler, you’ll just need to watch it, plan on around 5-9 minutes each side)
      • Cover with foil and let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes
    • Dressing:
      • Put all dressing ingredients (remember to save 1/4 cup mint leaves for garnish!)  in a blender, buzz, taste, add more chile, lime, salt or pepper to taste
    • Salad:
      • Toss the watermelon with the dressing up to 30 minutes before serving
      • Add the feta and grilled chicken and toss lightly
    • Plating
      • Lay down some arugula, then place salad on top to desired portion size.

Enjoy!

 

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Summer Bliss (aka: How to learn to love salads)

 Summer fruit and veg are just irresistible to me.  Tomatoes, figs, peaches, nectarines, pluots, berries.  So good.

If you’re not into salads, summer is the time to start.  The cookbook that made me finally get salads is Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan. The genius of this book is right there in the sub-title: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year.

There’s a ton of different flavor profiles: French, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Indian, favorites and favorites with a twist…  Many of these salads are meals in themselves with protein  included.  Many are easily made into meals by adding some grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, steak, lamb, or shrimp.

Most weeks, usually Friday arvo or Saturday morning, I’ll flick through that month’s recipes and get some ideas.  Then, when I get to the market, I go with what looks good, and know I can look forward to some delicious days using what’s seasonal.  (Added benefit: if it’s in season, it’s often relatively cheaper)

This week has been ridiculous.  I’ve been teasing friends on Instagram and Facebook with some of the photos.  Here’s the recipe behind the food porn pic.  What makes this recipe rock:

  1. It looks and tastes amazing (thanks to the best heirloom tomatoes you can find, never refrigerated, just bursting with flavor and juices)
  2. The unexpected combo of oregano, and sherry vinegar (instead of basil and balsamic)
  3. You can let it sit a couple of hours and it just gets better (unlike most salads that need to be eaten almost as soon as they’re tossed with the dressing)

Heirloom Salad with Oregano, Sherry & Balsamic Vinegar (August 8, p. 183)

  • Serves 2 with 2-4 heirlooms, 4 with 6-8 (recipe below for 2, double for 4)
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Ahead: up to 2 hours
  • Ingredients:
    • 2-4 Heirloom tomatoes
    • 1 green onion (or 3-4 chives)
    • 1 clove garlic (optional)
    • 1-2 tsp fresh oregano
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Sherry vinegar
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO, a good salad-worthy one if you have it)
    • Salt (Maldon crystals are awesome, but regular salt works)
    • 1/4 tsp sugar (skip if desired)
    • Country-style bread for mopping up the juices (if you want 🙂 )
  1. Slice tomatoes a bit over a 1/4 inch thick.  Lay them out on plates or serving platter
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste over the luscious beauties (do this from about 12 inches above the plate for a more even sprinkle)
  3. Finely chop the oregano & green onion (or chives), and mince the garlic (if using) and sprinkle over those tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle lightly with sherry and balsamic vinegar (a couple of drops per slice seems to work), drizzle more generously with the olive oil
  5. Try not to eat this goodness for at least 15 minutes.  It’s good to stand out for a couple of hours.  Then dive in.  No one will mind if you lick the plate.  You could always mop up the juices with a tasty bread.

What’s your favorite summer bliss?  Let me know if you want me to post more recipes 🙂