Crispy Chicken Salad with Peaches, Corn & Green Beans (Paleo, Primal) and Gascony, France
Oh my stars I am going to miss summer produce.
That’s a little trick that I employ, by the way, to keep myself from taking even one bite of this gloriousness for granted – I remind myself that these treasures of perfect corn, peaches, and green beans are temporary delights.
It’s not a sad reminder.
In fact, if I do this right, I’ll grow rather tired of corn, peaches, and green beans, and I’ll soon be giddy about cozy soups and long braises and wearing boots and sweaters again.
If you’re fickle and you love change, Minnesota is your paradise.
Speaking of paradise…
I wrote in my last post about the lovely fish we enjoyed while in Ostfriesland, Germany, on my family’s recent trip to Europe. I saved writing about the few days that we spent in Gascony, France, for this post.
My dad, stepmom Susanna, brother David, sister Etta, and I flew from Amsterdam to Toulouse to spend the last days of our vacation with Susanna’s cousin Brooke Maudhuit. Brooke and her husband Mark own a home outside the village of Condom, about an hour and a half drive from Toulouse.
None of us had been to Gascony before and what magic it was to drive through the countryside at sunset – rolling hills, fields of sunflowers, charming villages, pink skies…
We arrived at Brooke’s in a rather hysterical fashion – Google maps and the car’s navigation system were no match for deeply rural France and we pulled into her driveway only to turn around and drive away. Thank heavens for WhatsApp! Brooke messaged, You just drove away from my house! So we turned around again, on a tiny unpaved road at the base of a 12th century chapel, and made our way back.
After expelling the luggage we all had in our laps (we were packed pretty tightly into a sedan), we spilled out into a perfect evening.
Brooke is the ultimate hostess and her home is as beautiful as she is. Because her kitchen is under renovation, she hired a local chef and caterer named Ayse Ulken of Eat, Drink, Gascony to prepare meals and what a treat that was! We ate like French kings, enjoying peak-season tomatoes, stone fruits, fish, cucumbers, eggplant, melon, and herbs. I loved every bite and I so enjoyed talking with Ayse. Follow her on Instagram to see all of the beautiful things she’s always making.
Because of the construction, we stayed down the road at the home of Brooke’s friend, a spectacular and historic place called Chapelle D’Abrin, built in 1189! We made breakfast there each day – the only (very minimal) cooking I did. I made softly scrambled eggs with butter, fresh herbs from their garden, and a little garlic each morning. I hope to go back someday (the home is available to rent) and put that perfectly appointed kitchen to good use. It is a storybook French kitchen (and home).
It’s been hot as Hades in France this summer, so we did our sightseeing in the mornings, had lunches at Brooke’s, then headed back to Chapelle D’Abrin to spend the afternoons swimming and napping.
We returned to Brooke’s for leisurely dinners and that, my friends, is what is called a vacation, ha. It was glorious.
And so! Back to reality and thank HEAVENS reality is filled with luscious melons and stone fruits and berries and hot sunny days on this side of the pond as well. Makes re-entry a much easier prospect, that’s for damn sure.
Now you can see why I got so excited about this salad? With juicy peaches and haricot verts (green beans) and French breakfast radishes and mint? If you can eat tomatoes you should totally add them to this salad, by the way. I can eat them sometimes, but too often and I start to have joint pain. C’est la vie.
In fact, the whole European way of eating inspired this week’s Facebook Live video. I talked about finding the middle between the very American bookends of over-indulgence and deprivation, a topic I’ve actually been thinking and writing about for years. See what you think! (You can find it here on YouTube.)
PS Every time I post a photo with this plate, someone asks for the pattern and I am sorry to report that the plate is utterly blank on the back. I’m sad about it too – I only have one and would love to have more.
Crispy Chicken Salad with Peaches, Corn & Green Beans
Note: The recipe can be easily doubled. Feel free to prepare the green beans, corn, and vinaigrette a day ahead. It will make the salad come together very quickly. I love making big batches of green beans and corn for just this reason – to add to salads or to toss into a quick hash or stir-fry. To make this recipe dairy-free, skip the cheese and double the flour. To make this recipe AIP-compliant, substitute asparagus for the green beans, skip the corn, and dredge chicken (skipping the egg bath) in cassava flour or crushed plantain chips before frying.
For the salad:
2 cups arugula
2 tablespoons mint leaves, torn
1 cup boiled green beans, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup cooked sweet corn (from one ear)
4 radishes, sliced very thinly
1 ripe peach or nectarine, sliced
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced (not pictured; optional)
Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken:
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (or cassava flour for grain-free)
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for serving)
Avocado oil for frying (sub lard or even ghee if you like)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch wide strips
Make the salad:
Set out 2 dinner plates. Divide all salad fixings except the vinaigrette between the two plates. Set aside.
Make the chicken:
Line a large plate or cutting board with paper towels.
In a pie plate, lightly beat the egg. On a dinner plate, combine the cheese, flour, and salt, stirring with a fork.
Set a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4-inch of oil to the pan and heat until hot.
While pan and oil are heating, coat chicken strips in egg, then dredge in the cheese/flour mixture. Fry strips, a few at a time, until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate as you go.
When all of the chicken is cooked, sliced diagonally into 1-inch thick strips and set atop salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette and finish with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl – or shake in a jar – until combined.