Chicken Berry Salad With Creamy Lemon Dressing And Almonds -- Gluten Free
Picture by LynnKK
Bursting With Seasonal Berries And A Tart, Tangy Dressing -- A Salad To Commemorate A Magical Day
Every August my cousin Susie and I go wild blueberry picking up the Echo Trail north of Ely, Minnesota. Our goal is to pick enough berries for a pie or two to treat family and friends with enough left over to freeze for the fall and winter. Both of us love to bring out a wild blueberry pie to jazz up the Thanksgiving dessert table in November, and I am not adverse to dipping into what is left of my cache to make some muffins, pancakes or a yogurt parfait. Or a salad to cheer me up at the end of a grueling winter.
An Idyllic Day With A Delicious Ending
We went picking this past August, two fifty something women who are not particularly worried about exploring the woods on our own. I got in the car at about five am and drove from Minneapolis to Ely. Takes about four hours midweek, and I had beautiful weather so I pulled in about nine. Once we had fortified ourselves with coffee and a chat we got back into the car and drove up the trail. This area of the world is where my father grew up, with his sister, Susie's mom, and three brothers. I love it and treasure every moment I am able to spend there.
Susie had a number of berry patches in mind, and we were able to get enough for that pair of pies each and some extras to parcel out over the winter. It was a beautiful day and we took our time picking, talking, laughing and absorbing the glorious scenery. Around four o'clock in the afternoon we drove to Susie's cabin on Burntside Lake, a crystal clear remnant of the glaciers.
We were hot, a little bug bitten, a lot grubby and game for one more adventure. We clambered down the long stairs from the road to the cabin, changed into swimming suits and jumped in the lake. After a swim across the bay and back, and a nice visit with some other relatives who had motored over on their pontoon boat, we climbed back up the stairs and drove back to Ely.
A Simple But Succulent Dinner
For some reason we were loath to just send me on my way. We decided to go to a local restaurant for a light dinner before I left. Neither of us had ever been to Rockwood right on the main drag, Sheridan Street. Remember, we are moms, grandmas (in Susie's case) and aunties -- usually cooking for a crowd, not eating out, just the two of us.
Rockwood fed us well. We were definitely hungry, but the meal would have been delicious no matter what. Susie had some walleye cakes and I had a luscious chicken blueberry salad with a creamy lemon dressing. It was so amazingly good I felt like licking the plate. The dressing was what really made it special, a magical potion that was so light, tart and tangy, a perfect foil for grilled chicken and the blueberries.
Creamy Dream Come True
I have actually dreamed about that salad. Today I decided to replicate the light, lemony dressing and the fresh, leafy, crunchy salad. With a few ingredients, including the last handful of wild blueberries, I believe I came close. Give it a try and see if you like it well enough to lick the plate. I am not telling what happened to mine, but I have a very satisfied smile on my face.
- Prep time: 10 min
- Ready in: 10 min
- Yields: 1
- Creamy Lemon Dressing:
- 1/2 cup real mayonnaise (I make sure mine is gluten free)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Finely grated zest of one lemon
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Your favorite blend of herbs -- dried or fresh, or a combination. I used 1 teaspoon of a dried French blend and a healthy sprinkle of fresh chives.
- Chicken Berry Salad:
- Your favorite lettuce blend -- I used a mix of butter lettuces.
- 1 rib of celery thinly sliced -- feel free to add other veggies.
- 1/4 cup diced cucumber
- Your choice of berries -- I used about 6 fresh strawberries thinly sliced, 6 fresh raspberries and a handful of frozen wild blueberries.
- 1 cooked chicken breast cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 handful of roasted almonds, sliced or chopped
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing, reserving the chives, in a jar and shake. This will be a pretty tart dressing, so if you are not a fan of super tangy reduce the amount of lemon juice by half. Save the chives to stir in at the last minute or sprinkle them on top of the finished, dressed salad. (This will make more dressing than you need for one serving -- store reminder in the fridge and add the fresh herbs, if using, when you make the salad.)
- Layer lettuce, chicken, celery, and berries, pour on the dressing and sprinkle with almonds and the chives, if you have reserved them.
- Close your eyes, imagine a late August sunset and dig in.
This is one of a series of books by an original promoter of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. His "Listening Point" was only a few miles away from where we did ourblueberry picking.
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