Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mission: Magazine Cover Dinner

On a lazy night at the homestead, we were contentedly watching lefty documentaries and snuggling when it occurred to us... why not whip up that luscious salad on the cover of this month's Food & Wine for dinner?

Magazine cover dishes don't often make the "whip it up" cut. This salad, though, suited our laziness nicely. It's hearty enough to be the main dish, but uses rotisserie chicken that can be picked up at your favorite market. How easy is that? The challenge:

The first step was to make the Green Goddess dressing. I'd never made my own Green Goddess before, and it was a treat to do so.

Green Goddess Dressing

2 oil-packed anchovies, drained
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse the anchovies, garlic, parsley, basil, dill and oregano until coarsely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and process until smooth. Fold in the chives; season with salt and pepper.

Two notes on this dressing:
  1. If you're not familiar with cooking with anchovies, you might think they're gross and you'd never buy them. However, anchovies are in a surprising number of salad dressings - you'd be surprised how often you eat them without knowing it in restaurants. (This dressing, for instance, isn't the same thing without them.) Throw out that mental image of handling sardine-type creatures; oil-packed anchovies are innocuous strips in a jar, and they grind to nothing at all. A jar of good anchovies in oil can cost as little as $5 and will last you for ages, so what are you waiting for? They're a pantry staple.

  2. I don't like mayonnaise. I never put in on sandwiches, don't like mayo-based salads, and hate the smell of it. However, this combination of ingredients transforms what looks like a mayo-heavy dressing into something sublime. Really. (I also like my own homemade garlic or roasted red pepper aioli, so go ahead and call me a mayo hypocrite if you like.)
The Green Goddess dressing was so delicious that we couldn't help but mop it up with squares of ciabatta while we assembled the salad.

Speaking of ciabatta and the salad...

One 1-pound loaf of ciabatta, bread cut into 1-inch cubes (do not use bottom crust)
One 2-pound rotisserie chicken, meat pulled into large bite-size pieces (no skin or bones)
8 piquillo peppers (from a 9.8-ounce jar), drained and quartered lengthwise
3 inner celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

In a large bowl, toss the ciabatta with the chicken, piquillo peppers, celery, and olives. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Notes on the salad:
  1. As always, fiddle with this recipe and make it your own. I added red onion to mine, because I add red onion to nearly everything. Do the same with your favorite vegetable. I also used far peppers than what the text calls for, because I like peppers nearly as much as I like onion.

  2. Next time, I'd use a bit less bread than the official recipe. I happily discovered the next day, though, that even with the dressing-soaked bread, my leftovers weren't soggy. They were pretty much delicious.

  3. If you can't find piquillo peppers (a Spanish version of roasted reds), just go for standard roasted red peppers, either out of a jar or roasted right in your own oven.
I think you can see what a snap this salad is if you have the right ingredients. And as Food & Wine notes, it's fantastic with a glass of pinot (the house fave anyway).

The result (an admittedly bad photo - sorry!):



  1. Yum! I almost bought that mag at the grocery yesterday. Will definitely be trying the salad- it looks wonderful. I can't stomach store bought dressings anymore. Homemade is so easy and so much tastier!

  2. I add red onion to everything as well. It is a shame that my spouse doesn't like it.

  3. Have you ever tried making your own mayonnaise? With the ability to control how lemony and thick it is, I bet you might like it better.

    This does sound delicious.

  4. I am trying this immediately! After your recommendation for the corn, tomato, feta salad, I went home and made it (not a small feat...I don't cook) and it was DELICIOUS!

  5. Yay for Asolo serving pieces!!!

  6. Sasha - That's the decision I came to when making garlic aioli, since minus the garlic and with the addition of some dried mustard, you have mayo. Although when I have the option to throw garlic, peppers, or more into it and make a delicious spread, why wouldn't I? ;-)

    Also, home aioli/mayo-makers: holy hand and arm soreness! I nearly whipped myself to a frenzy.

    And Samma... we never buy dressings. I do my own too - so cost-effective and a thousand times better than anything full of preservatives.

  7. Oh, my deliciousness. I might take the peppers out of the chicken salad for our tastes, but this otherwise looks just perfect.

    By the way, I thought of you foodie type bloggers today; just received my first Michael Pollan book. I'm almost afraid to read it, but I want to soldier through and educate myself.

  8. I have that bowl! Love it! :) And I just drooled over that photo in line at Publix yesterday. Glad to hear it was delicious!

  9. Ooh, yum, this looks delish! I'm the same way with mayo but, like you, am open to trying it in slightly altered states. Have been thinking about making aioli and have been looking around a bit for recipes (hint, hint!!).

  10. Amy, I started with Alice Waters' aioli recipes from The Art of Simple Food. I just love that collection.


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