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FOOD : Summer Spontaneity : An Easy Chicken Salad With Some Tasty, Uncommon Overtones

July 17, 1988

IN HER NEW cookbook, "The Taste of Summer," (Bantam Books, $19.95), Diane Rossen Worthington offers a collection of delicious menus filled with recipes that reflect California's summer bounty. Stressing that summer "is a season for indulgence and spontaneity, a time for casual entertaining," this accomplished cook and hostess suggests that "precious free moments are meant for enjoying the outdoors, not polishing silver, arranging place cards, or toiling endless hours in the kitchen." Of the following recipe for Chicken Salad with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise, she says: "The Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise adds a sweet, mild pungency to this main course chicken salad. Toasted almonds and crisp broccoli give it extra texture.

CHICKEN SALAD WITH ROASTED-GARLIC MAYONNAISE 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds 3 cups chicken stock 2 pounds boned chicken breasts (about 2 large whole breasts) 1 pound broccoli 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions or chives 1 cup Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon salt Dash white pepper 1 roasted sweet red pepper, thinly sliced

Scatter almonds on baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully; they will burn quickly.) Set aside.

In a medium skillet with high sides or in large saucepan, bring chicken stock to simmer. Add chicken breasts and simmer just until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from stove and cool chicken in the liquid. When cool, drain chicken, remove skin and cut meat into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place in large mixing bowl and set aside.

Cut broccoli into flowerets. Cut top part of stalks into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in boiling water and simmer until crisp-tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain in colander. Run cold water over broccoli to stop cooking. Drain well and add to chicken.

Combine green onions and Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise with chicken and broccoli and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, carefully add all but 2 tablespoons of toasted almonds, tossing until just mixed. Garnish with red pepper slices and remaining 2 tablespoons of almonds. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: If desired, a combination of chicken stock and water, or water alone, may be used to cook chicken. If water alone is used, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise 2 medium heads of garlic1 1/2 cups Basic Homemade Mayonnaise1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Wrap whole garlic heads tightly in aluminum foil. Place on baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, squeeze soft garlic pulp from cloves by pushing hard on the garlic head. (You should have about 2 heaping tablespoons.) Place in small bowl. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice, whisking to combine. Refrigerate in airtight container. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Basic Homemade Mayonnaise 2 eggs or 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard Dash cayenne pepper Dash white pepper 1 to 1 1/2 cups safflower oil Salt (optional) Combine eggs, lemon juice, mustard, cayenne and white peppers in food processor fitted with steel blade. Process for 5 to 10 seconds.

With processor on, add oil in slow, steady stream. Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Season to taste with salt, if desired. Refrigerate in airtight container. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Food styling by Norman Stewart; prop styling by RoseMary Aguayo; props courtesy of the Hand Prop Room

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