Trader Joe’s gets what they call “champagne grapes” this time of year. They’re gorgeous, tight bunches of teensy, super-sweet and seedless gems. I just couldn’t get them out of my mind this week, thinking of them in a variation of a Waldorf salad. Turned out pretty tasty. I’m losing the light this evening, and alas have but one semi-decent image.
Perhaps losing the light foreshadows the coming end to summer. Well, we’re going to enjoy our no-cook late summer supper, and hope you try it, too.
Tarragon Chicken Salad
Chicken salad with tarragon, mini grapes, pecans and avocado.
Ah, my love affair with summertime mediterranean flavors continues. This week, it’s a quick and easy chickpea salad. This is best the day after it is made, to allow those peas to soak up the dressing. You can wait and add the parsley just before serving, if you like.
You see, two weeks ago I made some asiago and ham scones with pear honey for the office. Only the scones were *way* too sweet. I needed a remix, a scone redemption if you will. And I had this gorgeous thyme in the fridge….
A few months back I had a serious cook-on for this tajine at World Market. After dithering over several visits, I finally said “the hell with it!” and just bought the damn thing. It has looked very lovely collecting dust on my sideboard since. Until this morning, when I discovered my buttermilk had decided to grow hair and the scheduled asiago thyme scones were off the board. I was bemoaning my fate, looking at these gorgeous tomatoes on the counter when that beautiful cerulean babe called to me from her place of disuse. And I answered, dammit.
Mediterranean Chicken Tajine
Tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts and tender chicken.
4 boneless skinless chicken breast (about 1#/500g.)
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 white onion, cut in to 6 wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 c. red bell pepper, large dice
1/2 c. kalamata (or other flavorful) olives
1 c. marinated artichoke hearts
2 c. cherry tomatoes cut in half, or small tomatoes sliced in quarters.
Wash and pat dry the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet at medium-high. Sear the chicken on both sides, about two minutes each side. Get out a 2 quart baking dish (or a tajine, if you also just happen to have one lying about.)
While the chicken is searing, chop your veg. Turn the oven to 350*.
When the chicken is brown on both sides, turn off the heat and pour in the wine. Push the chicken around in the pan to get all those tasty deglazed bits.
Put half the veg in the pan, along with a couple of basil leaves. Layer the chicken next, pouring on the jus from the pan. Put in the rest of the veg. Cover and bake for one hour.
Sometime during the next hour, mince about 1/4 c. of the parsley and chiffonade a couple leaves of the basil (so you have about a tablespoon of basil).
When the dish is done, remove it from the oven and stir in the freshly chopped herbes.
If you want to go totally nuts, you could plate the meat and veg and monter au beurre the sauce.
Chicken legs or thighs (well-trimmed of fat) would be excellent in this recipe, even a whole cut up would be good (although you'd want a three quart pan for that)! Just be sure to skin the chicken - this slow moist roasting isn't conducive to tasty crisp chicken skin.
Serve this with a gorgeous salad and some crusty bread, or with rice or coucous, or even sautéed zucchini if you are watching your starch intake.