It doesn’t get much better than this! A light, lean, healthy and incredibly delicious salad!
Although I’m feeling rather “done” with our hot, steamy Carolina summer, I’m thrilled with what’s happening in the garden these days. Most mornings Scott heads out with an empty bucket and when he returns, it’s overflowing. I “ooh” and “aah” over cucumbers, beans, squash, beets, eggplants, zucchini, carrots and tomatoes in a variety of shapes, sizes and hues – red, rose, yellow, purple and a few colors I’m not even sure how to describe.
I love coming up with fresh, healthy recipes to utilize the beautiful garden bounty.
This Grilled Chicken with Tomato Cucumber Salad is adapted from a recipe I ran across in Fine Cooking a while back. It’s perfect for a light, lean healthy dinner and it’s simple to put together.
Most of the work for this salad can be done in advance; in fact the dressing tastes better if made at least a few hours ahead, giving the flavors a chance to meld.
I also like to cook the potatoes early in the day, drizzle them with dressing then refrigerate and let them soak up the delicious lemony, garlic flavors all day long.
About 45 minutes before dinner time rolls around throw the chicken in a zippered bag and add a few spoonfuls of the dressing. It also acts as a delicious marinade! After 30 minutes it’s time to fire up the grill, cut up the veggies and chop some herbs. A loaf of warm, crusty bread is a perfect accompaniment to this “meal in a bowl”.
To me, potatoes make a salad more hearty and satisfying, yet at the same time, this salad is light and refreshing.
Choose what ever kind of tomato you have growing or, if you don’t have a garden, the ones that look prettiest at the market. Different colors and shapes make a really pretty presentation.
Drizzle a bit more dressing over the chicken just before serving and pass extra at the table.
Scott and I took the photos for this post early one morning this past week, as the light for photography is really pretty around 8 or 9 o’clock. By the time we finished the shoot and had stared at this wonderful salad for over an hour, we were drooling. Yup you guessed it, we had Grilled Chicken with Tomato Cucumber Salad for breakfast – what a delicious way to start the day!
I use a mandolin to slice the cucumbers nice and thin. I love this one made by Oxo. It’s very user friendly, easy to clean and it folds up so it’s easy to store.
Besides, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, the dressing calls for anchovy paste. Don’t skip this! I’m not an anchovy fan but the small amount of paste adds great flavor. I promise you won’t know it’s there, you’ll just know it’s delicious.
I recommend using an instant thermometer any time you grill meat but particularly with boneless, skinless chicken breasts as they tend to dry out if they are even slightly overcooked. You’re looking for 160˚F. We bought Scott this Thermapen instant thermometer several years ago for Father’s Day and he loves it.
I really like to use the artisan lettuce you buy at many larger grocery stores for this salad but feel free to use your favorite lettuce. Arugula, spring mix, baby spinach and bib lettuces would all work well.
LOTS OF PEOPLE ASK WHAT KIND OF COOKWARE, SMALL APPLIANCES, CUTLERY, ETC. I USE IN THE KITCHEN. HERE’S WHAT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE.
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- finely grated zest from 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 inches anchovy paste (see tips)
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/4 lb. small red potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered if large
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½-2/3 of a medium English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced (I like to use a mandolin)
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes, I like to use different colors but use whatever you have
- 2 medium tomatoes, I like to use different colored heirloom tomatoes but use whatever you have
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 6 cups leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, arugula or baby spinach
- smal basil leaves, for garnish, if desired
- Peel garlic by smashing with the flat side of a knife on a work surface. Finely chop garlic then add ½ teaspoon salt and anchovy paste. Mash chopped garlic with the flat side of a large, sharp knife until a paste forms. (Here’s a great video on making a garlic paste.)
- Shake the oil, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, garlic paste, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a jar with a lid.
- Put the potatoes in a 3-quart saucepan. Add water to cover and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. (Exact time will depend on the size of your potatoes.) Drain potatoes well and then transfer to a medium size bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the dressing,1/4teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir to coat. (Dressing and potatoes can be made early in the day. Toss the potatoes with the dressing and seasonings, then after they cool down, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature or warm a bit in the microwave before serving.)
- Toss the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 tablespoons of the dressing ½ tsp. salt, and ⅛ tsp. pepper. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire.
- Arrange the chicken on the grill. Cover the grill and cook, turning the chicken after about 5 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total. For perfectly juicy chicken, use an instant thermometer. Internal temp should be right at 160˚F. Let the chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Slice the chicken. Divide lettuce between 4 dinner plates or shallow bowls, Arrange sliced chicken, tomato/cucumber salad and potatoes over lettuce. Drizzle chicken with a little more of the dressing. Pass extras dressing at the table.