Chicken Salad Niçoise
By Kath Dedon
This is turning out to be a record-breaking hot summer in Seattle and we, like many people here, do not have air conditioning. With good planning, though, I can still host a dinner party even when it’s too darn hot to cook. Last night this Chicken Salad Niçoise from Diane Rossen Worthington’s The Taste of Summer came to the rescue.
The chicken, potatoes, green beans, and hard-cooked eggs can be cooked early in the day when the kitchen is still cool. I cooked and shredded the chicken and put it in the refrigerator. The potatoes went in the bowl, followed by the other chopped vegetables. I whisked the salad dressing. Everything was ready to toss and serve when it was time to eat.
A traditional Salad Niçoise is usually a composed salad made with tuna, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, eggs, and Niçoise olives, and anchovies. I really enjoyed Diane’s tossed Chicken Salad Niçoise. It was colorful with a nice combination of flavors and textures. It was satisfying and yet a light meal for a hot night.
Homemade Guacamole and chips before dinner, bread and butter served with the salad, and sliced peaches and ice cream for dessert completed the menu. Summer entertaining made easy!
Chicken Salad Niçoise
(Adapted from Diane Rossen Worthington’s recipe in The Taste of Summer)
Serves 6 – 7
4 cups chicken broth (or water)
½ teaspoon Kosher salt, if using water
4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
1⅓ pounds small red-skinned potatoes
1 cup cut-up green beans (1½-inch pieces)
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 large red pepper, cut in half and seeded
½ cup Niçoise olives (if you can find them. I couldn’t and used ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives cut in half.)
About ¾ cup sliced sweet onion, the slices cut into 1½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon honey
¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Additional salt and pepper to taste
3 or 4 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
3 plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
1. Put the chicken breasts in a pan and pour the chicken broth (or water and salt) over them. They should be fully submerged, so add more water if necessary. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the breasts register 165˚ in the thickest part. Remove from the heat and let the chicken cool in the liquid.
2. Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are just done. Drain and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Put them in the bottom of a large bowl.
Potatoes in my big shiny aluminum bowl
Green beans fresh from our garden! I cut them into 1½-inch pieces.
3. Bring a pot of water to a bowl and get a bowl of ice water ready. When the water in the pot is boiling, add the cut beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the ice water to stop the cooking. When they have cooled, drain them and dry with paper towels.
4. Cut the carrots and red pepper into thin strips and add them to the salad bowl.
5. Add the onion slices and the olives to the salad bowl.
6. Add the capers and the beans to the salad bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside until ready to serve. (You may want to refrigerate it if it will be more than a couple of hours.)
7. Drain the chicken breasts and shred them with two forks into thin pieces. Put the chicken in a separate bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to toss it with the salad.
8. Make the dressing. Whisk the garlic, mustard, basil, lemon juice, honey, and salt together in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it’s all well-combined. Taste for seasonings and add a bit of salt and pepper, if desired. Cover the dressing with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to serve.
9. At serving time, add the chicken to the salad. Toss with the dressing. (I used all of it and it seemed just right.) Divide the salad among 6 or 7 plates. Garnish each plate with tomatoes and hard-cooked egg pieces. Enjoy!
Chicken Salad Niçoise served for 7