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Cool down the kitchen with summer salads

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By Sarah Berkshire

Think of summer food, and garden goodies might be the first thing to come to mind. But dishes served cold are among the season’s favorites, too. At the end of the day, when I’m driving a steaming stretch of asphalt that leads to my home, the last thing I want to think about is firing up the oven. Putting something fresh and cold on the table is a much more appetizing idea.

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One of my favorite summertime dishes is Curried Chicken Salad. I served this for the first time at my son’s birthday party last summer. Most of the guests had never tasted chicken salad with curry powder and complimented the blend of flavors.

The recipe calls for dried currants, which are similar to raisins but made from a different type of grape and smaller and darker. Some grocery stores don’t carry them, but a lot of cooks substitute raisins.

I prefer to pile the salad on sweet bread. It’s good on crackers or by itself, too.

This recipe, which I usually double or quadruple, is even better on the second day, so it’s a great make-ahead option.

Another summer dish that will do for dinner on a hot day is Chick Pea Salad. This recipe is a tweaked version of something my sister-in-law once whipped up and it’s similar to a lot of Cowboy Caviar recipes I’ve seen. As an appetizer, this is great with tortilla chips. For a light meal, serve it with pita bread.

If I have extra avocado, I’ll toss it in. Avocado is just about the best stuff to grow on trees but, wow, it can make an awful mess. Here’s a trick for cleaner chopping. Halve the avocado lengthwise and remove the pit. Use a knife to cut horizontal and vertical lines, making a grid in the meat. Don’t pierce the avocado skin. Scoop out the meat with a spoon.

Sarah Berkshire can be reached at (270) 505-1745 or sberkshire@thenewsenterprise.com.

Curried Chicken Salad
1 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
½ cup halved seedless red grapes
½ cup diced peeled apple
2 tablespoons diced pineapple
1 tablespoon dried currants
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted (toasting optional)

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise and next five ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Pour mayonnaise mixture over chicken mixture. Toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with almonds. Cover and chill. Yield: two servings (serving size: 1 ¼ cups).

Nutritional information: 303 calories; 7.2 grams fat; 33.8 grams protein; 25.7 grams carbohydrates; 1.9 grams fiber

Source: Cooking Light

Chick Pea Salad

1 15-ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 cups fresh corn
¼ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Gently mix chick peas, tomatoes, corn, onion, cilantro and avocado in a large bowl. Mix vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper; pour over salad and mix. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes.