Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bistro Salad with homemade creamy Italian dressing

Using up garden produce is sometimes a challenge.  When faced with a bountiful harvest of sugar snap peas again, I find myself wondering how to prepare them.  So far we've had them steamed, stir-fried, included in fried rice, as an ingredient in a green salad, tossed in a light chicken soup just before serving, and raw with dip.  Some of those have appeared on the menu more than once -- not so much that I couldn't squeeze another one by the family but often enough I want to try something different.

So I rummaged in the fridge and found some cold roast chicken plus, thanks to a trip to the newly-opened Friendly City Food Co-op, there were a couple of tomatoes, a bell pepper and a cucumber.  Since it's the Year of the Onion here, the garden could provide an onion, too. But our lettuce has started to turn bitter and bolt (go to seed) so if we were going to have a salad it would have to take a slightly different form from the usual lettuce-tomato-cucumber one.  Green sugar snap peas could be the basis instead of lettuce.  And the dressing would have to be homemade as that's one thing I've cut from my grocery list -- homemade dressing tastes better and I control the ingredients.  This is what I came up with -- and we all loved it.  Can't beat that kind of meal.
Bistro Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing

Makes 4 main dish servings

2 cups cooked cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1/3 cup diced sweet onion
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup creamy Italian dressing (recipe follows)
12 oz. sugar snap peas, optional
3 small tomatoes, optional

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.  (I start with a 1/4 cup, add more if needed, then serve extra on the side for those who really like to drown a salad.)  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve on a bed of raw sugar snap peas and sliced tomatoes.  Crusty bread makes a good partner.

Creamy Italian Dressing
(adapted from Jim Long's excellent book, The Best Dressed Salad: World Famous Salad Dressings & Their Origins)
Makes about 1-1/4 cups

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry marjoram
1 teaspoons dry parsley
1/4 teaspoon dry basil
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon liquid lecithin, optional

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Recipe may be halved or doubled.  Will keep several weeks in refrigerator.


A Brush with Color said...

That looks really good, Carolyn! I put white beans on my salads and I love them. Fills me up better, and good protein, too. Can you freeze the snap peas? Seems like I've gotten some stir-fry veggie mixes that have frozen snap peas in them, I think...thanks for the recipe!

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