Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot Days and Cool Salads

It was hot today.  So hot that I actually forgot I was in the Netherlands. Perfect temperatures for me, but a good reason to complain for others. "It's too hot!", "I'm melting!", "This heat is crazy!".  A common phenomenon here. As soon as it gets past 25C, there's a reason to bitch.
My warm, southern blood makes me love the heat (not the sweating). So instead of telling everyone I meet about how horrible it all is, I take it as it is: a much-welcomed fluke.
On days like today, I seek comfort in fresh salads, fruit, tons of water and a responsible amount of chilled wine.  As much as I love to cook, I do try to keep my time in front of the stove to a minimum . Here's a typical salad you'd see me eating on a hot summer's day...

Zesty Grilled Chicken Salad with Sunblush Tomatoes
Serves 3-4

For the dressing:
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

For the salad:
350g chicken breast, cut in thick strips
lemon zest, salt and plenty of ground pepper
4 tbsps mild olive oil
150g mixed greens of your choice
1 small knob of butter
1/4 baguette, halved and cubed
small handful sunblush tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp capers

Season the chicken with the lemon zest, salt and plenty of ground pepper.  Drizzle with 3 tbsps of the olive oil and allow to marinate for a few hours.  After that, grill the chicken strips for about 15 minutes.  In the meantime, heat the other tbsp of the oil and the knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the pieces of bread until golden brown. In a large bowl, whisk the ingredients for the dressing.  Throw in the salad leaves and toss to coat.  Divide the greens on the plates. Top with the chopped tomatoes, the avocado, the capers, bread and the grilled chicken. Serve and enjoy!