Memories of a picnic...a long time ago.
Nigel Slater’s Chicken Salad with asparagus and cucumbers

It’s that time of year we want to go outside and enjoy a picnic. Unfortunately the weather here in north Florida has not been cooperating as of late. Usually we have warm mornings but lately it’s been in the low 50s. Crazy. The evenings have been better and we’ve been able to eat dinner outside quite a few times, so that’s been nice.

Since the theme this week at IHCC is "
What's in Your Picnic Basket" I prepared a standby: chicken salad. But not any old chicken salad! I made Nigel Slater’s Chicken Salad with asparagus and cucumbers.

One memorable picnic I enjoyed was right in our front yard; this was about 20 years ago. My son was in kindergarten and he was sequestered from other people when he developed chicken pox. Doug and I would take turns picking up some groceries as Tristan couldn’t go inside the markets. He had little red marks all over his face and arms – if you’ve ever had a small child afflicted with that awful chicken pox, you’ll know it’s hard to keep them from scratching.

Well, just because we couldn’t go to a playground that was no reason to limit fun activities. We live in a rural area and our front yard has a park-like setting. We spread out a couple of blankets and took our lunch and lemonade outside. We had some books and games and best of all, enjoyed sandwiches and cookies sitting under a shady tree, listening to the birdsong.

(Seriously, reading over that paragraph made me think of Little House on the Prairie. We never have been like the Ingalls family :-)

While I don’t recall the type of sandwiches we had, I do remember it being a fun afternoon. Yeah...that was about 20 years ago. Things sure have changed. This time we didn't use bread to make sandwiches but placed the salad right onto lettuce. We were able to use butter lettuce straight from the garden. How cool is that?!

In the spirit of picnicking, I turned to Nigel Slater’s recipe from The Observer, July 2011 issue. This is a gluten free dish.....yum yum.

Chicken, tarragon and asparagus salad
The Observer, July 2011 issue

(This was taken straight from the Observer so, get your Brit fix in this version)

chicken thighs or breasts (about 4)
olive oil a little
lemon ½
asparagus 250g (about 8 oz)
cucumber 250g (8 oz)

For the dressing:
egg yolks 2
Dijon mustard ½ tsp
groundnut oil
olive oil
lemon juice of ½
tarragon 2 tbsp, chopped
parsley 2 tbsp, chopped
gherkins 6 small

Place the chicken pieces in a roasting tin, add the oil and juice from the lemon, massage in a little salt and black pepper, then roast at 200C/gas mark 6 for about 30 minutes, till the skin is golden and the juices run clear.

Meanwhile cook the asparagus in boiling water or steam it till tender. (I prefer to keep it a little on the crisp side for this recipe, about 6 minutes.) Drain and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to cool. Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds with a teaspoon and cut the flesh into small chunks, then put it into a sieve or colander over the sink. Grind a little salt over the cucumber, toss gently, then leave it for 30 minutes, until some of the juices have run out. (If you skip this point, your salad will be "wet".)

Make the dressing by putting the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with the mustard and a little salt and black pepper. Add the oils, starting with a drop at a time then slowly increasing to a trickle, beating firmly with a large whisk as if you were making mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice, chopped tarragon and parsley. Roughly chop the gherkins and stir them in. If the dressing seems a little thick or "claggy" (much will depend on your oil), then whisk in a little hot water till you get it to a consistency you like.

Tear the chicken into big, meaty pieces, but small enough that you can eat with a fork, then gently fold in the cucumber with as much of the dressing as you need to make a creamy salad. You want enough dressing to bind the salad, but not to swamp it, so use about half of it then add the rest a little at a time till you get the ratio of chicken to dressing as you like it. Keep any extra dressing in the fridge for a day or two.

Join in at IHCC, just click on the icon below and transport over. Guaranteed there will be other yummy offerings. I am also sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


Mae Travels said...

I'm wondering which part of Little House you have in mind... TV series or books?

Growing lettuce sounds rewarding, considering the difference between supermkt lettuce and farmers' mkt lettuce!

Tina said...

Mae, I love having this garden. It's something my husband and i work on together and we want to plant so much more. Big rewards!

Debra Eliotseats said...

Your lettuce looks so wonderful. I have got to get some planted soon.

~~louise~~ said...

Butter Lettuce straight from the garden! Way cooooool....

Isn't it funny how we remember certain stages of our children's youth, Tina? Not all of them are good I'm afraid. I do remember those chicken pox days although for some reason and thankfully, my kids don't lol...

It sounds like you turned a bad expereince into a happy memorable one:)

That is one awesome looking Chicken Salad! Cucumbers are not one of my favorite things but I must say, this salad is quite enticing:) Thank you so much for sharing, Tina...Pretty soon it will be time for the Picnic Game. I hope you will be joining us this year:)

Le laquet said...

Aww - dinner in the garden with you and Doug, I wish!

*kisses lottery ticket*

kitchen flavours said...

It's nice when food brings back memories. Reading about the chicken pox I remembered mine, how unhappy and miserable I was, not because of the chicken pox, but because I got it during the long school break term, it meant that I have no chance of skipping school at all! haha!
The salad looks wonderful and yes it is really cool, harvesting your own greens from your garden!! Lovely picnic choice! :)

Zosia said...

Chicken salad is always welcome at a picnic, especially one packed with fresh ingredients and flavour - that dressing sounds amazing! And I'm very envious of the lettuce straight from your garden!

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

You reminded me I have asparagus in the fridge I need to use.
I esp. like your memories of that day!

Peggy Ann said...

Thank you for sharing this delicious looking recipe and I will definitely use it this summer on a picnic!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) said...

Ugh - chicken pox are the worst! Glad you had the right yard to get your son outside anyway! And the chicken salad looks yummy!

JoAnn said...

That chicken skald just looks like spring... I'll bet it tastes delicious, too!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

What a lovely memory of your son and your chicken salad looks delicious.

Laurie C said...

A nice post, blending past and present! We had a few years of our kids eating grown-up food like salads before entering the years of special diets, vegetarian and gluten-free, so now we eat more like them when they're home for visits.

Carole said...

Lovely salad. I do like Nigel Slater's approach to food. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Couscous & Consciousness said...

This salad just screams spring to me - asparagus, tarragon, cucumber, all perfect ingredients for a chicken salad.

As a kid I remember coming down with a bad dose on chicken pox on Guy Fawkes night. I had to be kept inside while all the other kids were out in the garden enjoying the fireworks, but my Dad went to great lengths to attach some catherine wheels to the fence outside my bedroom window so I could enjoy them.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I had chicken pox in 3rd grade and remember how miserable I was. A least you made a few positive memories and fun for your son. I am crazy for tarragon and I love the combination of ingredients and flavors in this one. Homegrown lettuce only makes it all the better. ;-)

Kim said...

Tina - Your memory of that long ago picnic really stopped and made me think. I need to make more time to create memories like that of my own before my kiddos get too big! Saying that, I also think it's so cool that you made this salad with butter lettuce from your own garden! Rock on!
This looks like a gorgeous meal to enjoy outdoors!

ostwestwind said...

Butter lettuce straight from the garden, wonderful. And yes kids grow fast, we made some bicycle tours and made picnic then.

Beth F said...

Way to turn a miserable illness into a fun time!

Funny, I made chicken salad this weekend. I poached my chicken, but love the idea of roasting it instead. I too used asparagus, but my herb was basil and I added pecans.

TeaLady said...

What a great idea to roast the chicken. I like making chicken salad with rotisserie chicken. So much more flavor. But this is much better.

Tropical Trader and Mashes Sands #SouperSunday

Last weekend we drove down Highway 98 toward Tropical Trader located in Panacea Florida. We had been there back in March but on the Harley ...