Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Get your grill going with zesty chicken salad

Here's How

By Marilyn Harris
Enquirer contributor

For me, warm weather means it's time to get outside of the kitchen and cook. Even something as simple as chicken salad can be prepared on the grill.

Start by pounding boneless chicken breasts to achieve consistent thickness and even cooking - seldom longer than 10 minutes - at a high temperature. Turn only once, so as not to overcook and dry out the chicken; remove from the grill as soon as it's done.

This zesty marinade infuses the chicken with delicious flavors that are repeated in the dressing. Don't let the long list of ingredients deter you from trying it. Much of the preparation is easy and can be done ahead. Once it is made, all you need is French bread for a complete, one-dish meal.

Use the grill, too, for roasting the bell peppers. Lay whole peppers on the rack in a hot grill, then turning them a couple of times with tongs so they roast evenly. When the skin is black and blistered, remove them to a zip-top plastic bag and seal.

Cool completely; the peppers will sweat and the moisture will soften the skins, making peeling quick and easy.

You can roast extra peppers ahead, then refrigerate them for future use. Place peppers in a container, and lightly cover them with oil. They will thicken in the refrigerator. Just allow the peppers to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes before using them.

Contact Marilyn Harris by mail: c/o Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; e-mail:

Grilled Chicken Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil (or about 2 teaspoons dried basil)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into tiny strips


2 roasted red peppers, peeled and cut into strips

1 large sweet salad onion, thinly sliced

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil

Romaine lettuce

Parsley or basil for garnish

Rinse, dry and trim the chicken breasts. Place them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to flatten. Stir together marinade ingredients or mix them together in the food processor. Place chicken and marinade in a shallow bowl or in a heavy plastic bag and marinate in refrigerator 1 to 3 hours.

Place the marinated chicken on a preheated hot grill and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Turn once. When chicken is done, remove from grill and set aside.

Make dressing by whisking together, or mixing in the food processor until blended, the oil, garlic, vinegar, honey, Tabasco and salt. Stir in the tomatoes. Set aside.

To assemble salad, cut the chicken, across the grain, into small strips. Toss together chicken, red peppers, onion, cucumber and parsley.

Toss in the dressing. Arrange lettuce on a platter or shallow bowl. Spoon the salad over the lettuce. Garnish with parsley or fresh basil. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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