June 20, 2018

Fridge Cleaning Chicken Salad

Strawberries that have terrifyingly gained
sentience agree: you should make this salad.
So I recently signed up for one of those services that are constantly being advertised lately. You know the ones I mean. Where they'll send you misshapen unloveable produce that's still technically good to eat and charge you only a fraction of what you'd pay in the store. You help reduce food waste, and you get to save money! It sounds great, especially with the added enthusiasm of that exclamation mark. And after one week so far, it seems to technically be accurate. The only thing they didn't mention is that the fraction of the supermarket prices that you end up paying is roughly 1/1 (Math jokes. That's why people read this blog, right?). I still feel mildly good for myself about the alleged food waste reduction, and it's easier to buy healthier things when you're picking them out on the internet and you don't have to contend with the allure of the whiskey and cans of frosting aisle at the supermarket, so I'll probably stick with it for another week or two at least. But now I have an unreasonable amount of stone fruits and leafy green things in my fridge that are threatening to turn in to some sort of viscous goo and probably attract fruit flies if I don't actually use them. So I'm going to actually use them.

Ingredients:

1 head of Butter Lettuce
2 Nectarines
1 Carrot
1/3 cup Chopped Walnuts
1/2 a Red Onion
1/2 a Lemon
2 tsp Apricot Raspberry Preserves (For those of you not awesome enough to have access to dual apricot raspberry preserves, just pick one and go with it. I'd pick apricot, but what do I know?)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 average sized human's pinch of Salt
1 smallish sized human's pinch of Black Pepper
Leftover chicken (Fried. Grilled. Whatever. If you don't have any leftover chicken, either leave it out and have a sad chicken-less salad, or go buy chicken, don't eat all of it, and then you'll have leftover chicken)

The good news is that this is a salad, and that your chicken is already cooked. That pretty much means that all you have to do is assemble ingredients and throw them together in a bowl. The bad news is that you're going to be eating a salad. Fortunately, this thing is going to be so tasty that even people who talk about how they're carnivores because they can't tell the difference between personal preference and actual biology will be gulping down seconds (Biology jokes. That's why people read this blog, right?). So take your lettuce, cut off its butt, and soak it in water to dislodge any dirt or "extra bits of protein." Then roughly chop it and haphazardly throw it in to a bowl. Choppity chop up your nectarines, walnuts, and onion and throw them in to the party. Extra points if you removed the pits from the nectarines. Then shred your carrot, chop up your chicken, and throw them in there too, and you're almost done.

Red tinge to this photo courtesy of the weird lighting
at my apartment today for some reason.
What's left is the dressing, which is where a lot of people go wrong. People either don't understand that you need to actually mix the dressing ingredients together before adding them on to the salad, or they don't add enough dressing, or they add way too much dressing. It's a mess. The basic rule is just be a normal person. If you don't add dressing to your salad, I've got exciting news for you. Acid and fat help you to actually absorb nutrients from the vegetables. So you've been making your food taste worse, and getting fewer health benefits from it. Isn't that great? Whereas if your salad typically looks like it's swimming in a pool of thick goop, you've clearly got some issues to work out before you can be trusted to make food at all. So like I said, just be normal and things will probably work out. Mix together your preserves, mustard, oil, salt, pepper, and the juice from your lemon until the whole mess looks homogenous. Now there's just one last pitfall to try and trip you up. Salad, once dressed, does not hold up well for later use. So if you're feeding a group of people, add the dressing in and mix the salad just before serving it. If you're eating alone in your apartment while binge-watching reality TV and feeling good about yourself for sobbing into a salad for once instead of junk food, dress only the salad you're actually going to eat at that time. And maybe leave out the salt, because the tears will add that for you.