Friday, May 28, 2010

Picnic Salad to pep up your Memorial Day

Why does Memorial Day weekend have to begin so dark and gloomy, right off of a full moon? I think its a proven fact that people go CRAZY during the full moon. I had insane, tripped-out dreams last night. Eric has a mysterious, feverish virus. My mother is currently a little overwhelmed and I'd like to help. Uncle Kenny, I wish I could help you feel just a teensy, tiny bit better today.

However unsettled your holiday weekend may be beginning, take comfort in the fact that once you make this pasta salad to take to a picnic, you'll find yourself revisiting it again and again, year after year. It's like my old, reliable friend. I'd even say its a kitchen soul mate...something familiar that arrives with the spring as sure as thunderstorms and azaleas to bring a bit of color back to your life. I am a true believer that once you find something as tried and true and delicious as this recipe, you should spread the love around.

Happy Memorial Day, friends. Let's take the "memorial" part literally and extend true thanks to those who have enriched our lives in meaningful ways, particularly those who have served this country. I'm sorry this isn't a particularly aesthetically patriotic salad, but lets leave that to the jello mold, shall we?

The New Basics. Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Introduced to me by Aunt Linda and Uncle Brack many moons ago...

~14 oz. linguine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
¼ cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons hot chili oil
~ 1 - 1.5 lb boneless and skinless cooked chicken breasts
5 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted*
1 lb thin asparagus, trimmed
3 scallions, white bulb and three inches green, cut into 2-inch julienne
1 small cucumber, halved, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the linguine, and cook at a rolling boil until just tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again, and set aside in a large mixing bowl. (must be cold before setting aside, so noodles don’t stick to each other).

2. Place the garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, peanut butter, and soy sauce in a food processor. Process for one minute. With the motor running, slowly add the sesame and hot chili oils through the feed tube, and process until well blended.

3. Shred the chicken into 2-inch julienne, and toss with the linguine. Add the sauce and 4 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, and toss to coat well.

4. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into 1-inch lengths. Blanch in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and pat dry. (adding ice cubes to the asparagus helps cool it rapidly so that it retains an intense green color).

5. Place the linguine and chicken in a large flat serving bowl, and arrange the asparagus on top. Sprinkle with the scallions, cucumber, and remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.

6 servings

*Spread sesame seeds on pan and place in 350° oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

AND PS: this salad is GREAT vegetarian. I've added snap peas and tofu in the past as well.

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