Patricia Wells wants her salads to have it all - fresh seasonal ingredients, bright colors, crunch and a bit of lean protein.
Well, almost all. "I generally do not like fruit in my salads, though I do enjoy cantaloupe or watermelon from time to time," Wells, author of numerous cookbooks, including the just-released "Salad as a Meal" (William Morrow, 2011), said in an e-mail interview.
And for Wells, salads don't just make the meal, they can make it memorable.
"Any lobster or crab salad is delightfully memorable. I remember the first time I sampled the combination of crab and avocado at L'Astrance restaurant in Paris. I thought I had died and gone to heaven," she said. "To this day, it remains one of the greatest salad combinations I know."
For AP's 20 Salads of Summer series, Wells offered a recipe for ginger-sesame chicken salad with glass noodles.
"Ginger, sesame and glass noodles are a classic Asian combination, and the addition of chicken puts it in the healthy, lean protein category for me," she said. "The bright, intense flavor of a good quality sesame oil makes this an elegant dish that takes very little effort, and the crunch of the scallions add that essential crunch."
Ginger and Sesame Chicken Salad with Glass Noodles
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons tamari or other Japanese soy sauce
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Chinese black rice vinegar
2 plump, moist garlic cloves, peeled, halved, green germ removed, and minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) cubed cooked chicken
3 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
7 ounces glass (cellophane) noodles
Fresh shiso leaves, cut into a chiffonade (or fresh cilantro leaves), for garnish
In a small jar, combine the tamari, sesame seeds, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Cover and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning, then set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken and half the scallions. Toss with about half of the dressing, or just enough to moisten the ingredients evenly. Taste for seasoning.
In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Do not salt the water. Add the glass noodles, swirl them in the water, and cook just until soft, about 1 minute. Drain, and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Drain again.
In a second large bowl, toss the noodles with the remaining dressing. Place the seasoned noodles on large serving plates. Scatter the cubed chicken over the noodles, then garnish with the shiso or cilantro and the remaining scallions.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 461 calories; 155 calories from fat (34 percent of total calories); 18 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 73 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrate; 29 g protein; 2 g fiber; 733 mg sodium.
(Recipe from Patricia Wells' "Salad as a Meal," William Morrow, 2011)