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Fresh Chicken Salad Is Ready Fast

August 08, 1996|MARIE SIMMONS | Simmons is the author of the newly released "Fresh & Fast" (Chapters Publishing)

For supper tonight, we're having my favorite chicken salad. My version is quite different from the popular deli variety. First of all, I prefer starting from scratch with lukewarm freshly cooked chicken. This may seem time-consuming, but I have streamlined the process so that the entire preparation--including the accompanying salad--takes only about 45 minutes from beginning to end. I think the delicious results are more than worth every second of preparation.

It takes 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size, for the chicken breasts to cook through. When they are cooked, I transfer them to a pie plate or shallow bowl and spoon on a little of the broth to keep them moist as they cool. If refrigerated, they will be cool enough to handle in 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the celery, parsley and Parmesan cheese can be chopped and the rest of the menu prepared.

The last task is to quickly peel off the skin, pull away the bones and cut the chicken meat into 1/2-inch chunks.

I like this salad served on a bed of arugula, accompanied by cubed ripe plum tomatoes, brine-cured black olives and my favorite summer salad of cooked fresh green beans tossed with fresh mint.

For dessert I like to serve fresh nectarines cut into thin wedges and drizzled with lime juice. I serve the fruit in glass goblets and add a few blueberries or raspberries to each glass.

WARM CHICKEN SALAD WITH CELERY AND PARMESAN

4 chicken breast halves, boned, and fat trimmed

1 clove garlic

1 leafy celery top

Salt

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

2 bunches arugula, washed, long stems trimmed

1/2 cup red onion, cut into thin slivers

1/2 cup Kalamata olives

Arrange chicken breasts in single layer in deep skillet with tight-fitting lid. Add water to barely cover, garlic, celery leaves and 1 teaspoon salt.

Cover and bring to boil. Remove cover, turn chicken, return cover and cook over medium-low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to shallow bowl or pie plate and cover with broth to keep moist. Allow to cool (to cool quickly, place bowl, covered, in refrigerator).

When chicken is lukewarm, strain broth and reserve for another use. Remove skin and bones. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces and combine in large bowl with celery, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to blend.

On 4 large plates, spread arugula leaves. Mound chicken salad in center of each plate. Garnish with few slivers of red onion and black olives.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

415 calories; 1,424 mg sodium; 97 mg cholesterol; 27 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 35 grams protein; 1.18 grams fiber.

GREEN BEANS WITH MINT

1 pound green beans, stem ends removed (blossom end intact)

Salt

1/2 clove garlic

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat large pot of water to boiling. Add beans and 1 teaspoon salt; cook uncovered over high heat until beans are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in colander.

Rub inside of large bowl with cut side of garlic; reserve garlic for another recipe. Add mint and olive oil to bowl.

Add beans while they are still hot and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature on same plate as chicken salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

66 calories; 81 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.25 grams fiber.

NECTARINES WITH LIME JUICE AND BERRIES

4 large nectarines

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup fresh raspberries or blueberries

Cut thin wedges of nectarines into each of 4 stemmed glass dessert dishes. Sprinkle lightly with lime juice and sugar, dividing evenly. Garnish with berries.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

92 calories; 0 sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.47 grams fiber.

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