It doesn't get much better than this Grilled Chicken Tomato Cucumber Salad! It's light, lean, healthy and incredibly delicious!
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 brimming. I'm thrilled with his cucumbers, beans, squash, beets, eggplants, zucchini, carrots and tomatoes in a plethora of shapes, sizes and hues. This Grilled Chicken Tomato Cucumber Salad was the result of one of his overflowing buckets.
I love coming up with fresh, healthy recipes to utilize Scott's beautiful garden bounty.
I adapted this salad from a recipe I ran across in Fine Cooking a while back. It's perfect for a light, lean, healthy dinner; and it's remarkably simple to put together. I love that most of the prep work 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 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 the 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 whatever kind of tomatoes 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 beautiful presentation.
Drizzle a bit more dressing over the chicken just before serving and pass the 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 the Grilled Chicken Tomato Cucumber Salad for breakfast - what a delicious way to start the day!
Café Tips for making this Grilled Chicken Tomato Cucumber Salad:
- 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 anytime 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 a center of the meat temperature of 160˚F. This is a great instant thermometer for the money!
- 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.
Here are some of the things I used to make and serve this Grilled Chicken Tomato Cucumber Salad:
- 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 ¼ pound small red potatoes scrubbed and halved or quartered if large
- 4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 medium English seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 6 cups leaf lettuce bib lettuce, arugula or baby spinach
- small 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.
Shake the oil, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, garlic paste, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ teaspoon 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, ¼ teaspoon 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 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon 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-read 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.
Adapted from Fine Cooking