If you are like me, heavy meals just don’t “sit well” during the long, hot and humid days of an Atlanta summer. Much as I love barbecue with its thick, sweet sauces, it is something I always replace with cool summer salads in summer months.
Although veggie salads with all those farm fresh crops becoming available or even fruit salads featur-ing watermelon, strawberries or peaches are summer delights, some protein laden salads are a necessity. Nothing beats potato salad year round, but in the summer, I make sure to add plenty of hard boiled eggs and crispy chunks or bits of good bacon. One always needs some protein with those carb
You can also always add well seasoned flank steak or other meats to green salads but nothing beats a nicely chilled egg or chicken salad. Whether you use them for sandwiches or as a main course [with the chicken], they are always refreshing and very simple to make. Chicken salad is even easier if you use a good store bought rotisserie chicken or the leftover fried chicken without all the breading and skin.
For me, it is simpler to make the salad from scratch. Start with boneless, skinless breasts. Boil them in salted water or roast the breasts in the oven with generous seasonings of your choice. Sometimes, you might marinade the chicken first if you prefer. Use whatever spices or herbs you like, even a nice curry powder works well. Also, I highly recommend using tarragon, which goes with almost all chicken dishes like basil goes with tomatoes. You might also cook your chicken chunks in a little butter – about three minutes per side – instead of boiling or roasting.
Now the fun begins. Once your chicken cools, cut it up or shred it so you have complete and full ex-posure to your sauce. Add mayonnaise [I always use Duke’s] to taste, some finely chopped onions and celery for some crunch. You might also add your favorite nuts like pecans or almonds [toast them lightly first]. For something sweeter, slice up some grapes or grape tomatoes. The salad is always better if you let it chill for an hour or two before eating so all those flavors come together nicely. Do whatever suits your personal taste and enjoy a cool lighter meal on hot days.