Monday, May 31, 2010

Grilled Chicken Nicoise and Lemon Mousse

After being (quite frankly) a Cranky Hank on Friday due to every one I knew seemingly leaving town to visit fabulous cabins, I ended up actually having a really fantastic holiday weekend. I did a ton of yardwork, had a picnic at the beach (with wine!), went to a Twins game, and tonight cooked an al fresco dinner for my mom and dad.

The parents were in town for a couple hours and it coincided perfectly with dinnertime. I wanted mom and dad to enjoy a super flavorful but light meal so I made my favorite French salad - the Nicoise, but with grilled chicken instead of seared rare tuna.

While my mom (who is super cool) will at least try most things, there are still some things she won't go near. One is any type of bell pepper, no matter what color. The other is raw fish. Last spring in NYC while eating at Balthazar, I tried to get her to take a taste of some seared tuna. She said she would if I ate a bite of her steak. Touche - point taken. I guess even at 31 years old, there are still a few things you can learn from your mother.

So, instead of boiling all the ingredients for a Nicsoise salad like usual, I summer-ed up this recipe and grilled everything. It was a huge hit with the parents (even if they snubbed my gorgeous French vinaigrette and used Ranch dressing...whatevs), and I even got to serve the salad out of the beautiful bowl my mom bought for me in Mexico!

For dessert, I made Lemon Mousse, from last week's Serious Eats column, written by Kris from the Cheap, Healthy, Good blog (which I love!). I was concerned that it wouldn't firm up, but it turned out light and fluffy, sweet and lemony, and all around hugely impressive!

Grilled Chicken Nicoise Salad
2 chicken breasts, butterflied (or 4 cutlets)
2 yukon gold potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup nicoise or kalamata olives, sliced
4 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on medium-high heat 5 or so minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with tinfoil.

Par-boil potatoes for 5-6 minutes. Then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on medium-high heat 2-3 minutes on each side until grill marks appear.

Par-boil green beans (if using fresh) for 2 minutes. Then drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper and grill for 2-3 minutes or until hot and charred.

Put romaine in a large bowl. Arrange hard boiled egg slices, grilled potatoes, grilled green beans, tomato halves, sliced olives, and sliced grilled chicken in concentric circles on top of lettuce.

Serve with a sliced French baguette, French Vinaigrette, and a nice French wine (I had white, but a rose would be fabulous with this!).

French Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 shallot, diced finely
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a jar and shake to emulsify.

Greek Yogurt Lemon Mousse
I used my homemade yogurt and added strawberries - it was amazing.

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