The other night as Scarlett and I walked to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner I asked her what she wanted to eat. She said, "I'm not sure. You're getting the salad, right? The one with the beets?" She knows that just about any meal of mine (minus breakfast) can easily be a salad. It all depends on where we are eating it. At Terroni? The one with the tuna. At the BierMarket? The one with the beets. At Fresh? The one with the Tempeh. Even Scarlett likes a good salad.
In March, I spent a month in Florida and I have to admit, a lot of our meals were eaten out. However, one night, we visited friends for dinner and were served this delicious salad. I couldn't get enough of it. Even though I'm very at ease with these friends, I didn't feel comfortable enough to scrape the leftovers from the bowl with my tongue. That's wrong, right?
Our friend Colin is so inventive and proficient in the kitchen, it always inspires me to be more playful and experimental. He can make the best pasta dishes out of the blue using only leftovers from God-knows-what-dinner and make it insanely delicious. I've never seen him use a cookbook (not that there is anything wrong with that), he's just very intuitive. On that evening, he pulled together this salad. Using a fresh, roasted whole chicken from the prepared food section of the supermarket, it doesn't get easier than this folks.
Chicken and Asparagus Salad
1 whole roasted chicken, white meat sliced and cut into bite size chunks
1 cup shaved cheddar cheese
1 red pepper, sliced and chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, steamed and chopped
4 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
In a tall, lidded pot, place two inches of water. Tie asparagus into a bundle with string and place in pot upright, with stems at the bottom Cook for 3- 8 minutes depending on thickness of asparagus. Remove from water and set aside.
Chop chicken meat and place in a large mixing bowl. Shave cheese and cut asparagus into bite size pieces similar in size to chicken. Chop red pepper. Combine chicken, cheese, asparagus and red pepper into bowl and gently mix. Drizzle desired amount of dressing into salad. Use a wooden spoon to combine.
Arrange chopped kale on plates and then spoon chicken salad over top and serve.
Scarlett and I couldn't wait to replicate this meal. Colin served it on bibb lettuce leaves, but I decided to use shredded kale. We added the red pepper and considered carrot too. Scarlett snapped the stems from the asparagus as I chopped the chicken meat into chunks. She also helped with the chopping once the asparagus was cooked. She chatted with me non-stop about our day. I suddenly had a feeling of what it may be like to cook with her when she's 15, minus the attitude.
As we finished our meal, I asked Scarlett and Dan what else would be good in this salad? Dan suggested apple. I came up with chives. And Scarlett said, "Pear would be good." Then, with a twisted laugh, she added," Or an eyeball." If you want, you can try that addition. I'm good, thanks.