Brunch Menu - Need Salad Recipe
A friend and I are making the food for an upcoming midday baby shower.
Here's our menu so far:
Rosemary Corn Scones
Gruyere Cheese Puffs
Fruit and Buttermilk Tartlets
Roasted Garlic and Tomato Parmesan Tart
Black and Red Kir Royale Fruit Salad
Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Bruschetta with Honey Ricotta and Strawberries
We've got kind of a simple but high-end Italian / Napa feel to the menu (I think anyway!). We had previously had a Panzanella salad with grilled chicken to round out the menu, but I tested it this weekend, and it didn't go over very well - not that impressive. I'm now looking for another entree-type salad, ideally with chicken and a Napa/Italian feel to it, to finish off the menu. Any ideas? I'm coming up with nothing!! I definitely want it to feel high-end but not be too high-maintenance to make, with so much else to make and people showing up at 11am. The party is early August so summer produce is ideal. Thanks! :-)
How about a huge platter of grilled veggies, drizzled with EVOO, and topped with crumbled goat's cheese and torn fresh basil?
What about a take on chicken salad, adding in whatever fruit looks best at the time of the party. Sure there's a more traditional add in like apples or even grapes, but I'm partial to something more interesting like apricots. You could serve with a nice baguette or other break in small slices, making it more party friendly
I second Ashes suggestion. Everyone likes a really good chicken salad.
Use roasted chicken and don't smash it to smithereens--leave as much as possible in bite-size chunks (the unseasoned deli rotisserie chix make it a snap and if you save the carcass incl. skin, you can make some of the best broth you ever tasted), Hellman's mayo, lots of thin-sliced scallions, 2 or 3 colors of seedless grapes cut in half. I add some Penzey's Fox Point seasoning (shallots/green peppercorns/chives/scallions/garlic/salt) but that's optional. Make it the day before so the flavors develop, or at least slice the scallions into the mayo a day ahead.
Here's something that I think would pair well with your menu. My standby is a mixed baby greens salad with grapes and sliced strawberries (you could add sliced kiwis) topped with toasted walnuts and goat cheese. I make a basic vinaigrette with pear balsamic vinegar, shallots, a little garlic, olive oil, and mustard. Then I use an immersion blender to blend some fresh strawberries into the dressing. Just add one or two at a time and taste after each addition until you get the taste you like. If you marinated the chicken breasts for a bit in some of the vinaigrette before the addition of the strawberries and then grilled them, I think they would be fantastic on top of this salad.
I too think the menu needs a good plain mixed greens salad, but I think it also needs a meat salad since it's obviously not a vegetarian brunch ( the OP mentions chicken as a possibiiity).
A good hearty option to the chicken salad might be the Dutch "Cavalryman's" salad made with cold cubed roast beef/cubed potato/chopped onion &/or shallot/scallions/chopped sour pickle/chopped hard-cooked eggs, bound with horseradished mayo.
An old Dutch friend--one of the best cooks I've ever known; her food convinced me that Dutch cuisine is worth looking into--brought it to a party in the late 60s. She smoothed into a mound like a halved egg, frosted it lightly with horseradished mayo, decorated it with with flowers made of sliced egg/pickle/beets, stems & greenery of scallion tips and fresh herb leaves. It was the most beautiful, unusual, delicious cold meat salad I think I've ever had.
I make it frequently for salad potlucks, though I seldom go to the trouble of decorating it into such a presentation as hers.
Note: She pronounced it something like this phonetic impression: "Hoy-cchhh-tshuh (that hocking, throat-clearing sound only the German and Dutch can make)-salada" and said it meant cavalryman's salad, but I just googled that and had no luck. It is easy to wing, though.
I love the barefoot contessa's panzanella salad... it is by far the best. two other ideas.... a chicken salad made with cabbage, slivered almonds, sesame seeds and oil, and noodles. or my friend made this amazing salad of arugula, watermellon, kalamata olives, feta cheese with a champagne/citrus vinagretter that was delightfully summery and refreshing.
Panera has a sumer salad that has chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and one other fruit. Why not make a home version? Strawberries go well with balsamic vinegar, so you could mix the strawberries and blueberries with green salad, toss with a balsamic vinegarette, then add some sliced grilled chicken (if you marinate the chicken in buttermilk, it'll stay nice and moist). Looks like you're buying berries and buttermilk for other dishes anwyway!
I tried a delicious orzo salad from the Food Network (Giada's recipe) and added pitted olives, feta and sauteed shrimp...it was delicious. I am making it again this weekend for a party w/o the shrimp.