Thursday, July 6, 2017

Peachy Summer Chicken Salad

Who likes thrift store shopping? This girl does, that's who. I love spending a leisurely day strolling through the aisles and seeing all the fun things for sale. Many of the items bring back memories. I see lots of vintage dishes and Tupperware pieces that my mom or friends' moms had in their kitchen when I was young. Many times I will find souvenir glasses from different places, restaurants, breweries, festivals, and I always wonder about the person who first bought this item, and how it ended up at the Goodwill. I primarily look through the dishes and cookware, and books, sometimes I'll find a cool piece of framed art or something like that. I'm mostly on the lookout for unique dishes, serving pieces, cast iron, and cookbooks. Some of the really old utensils and dishes spark my imagination about the original owner of these things. Who was she? Did she have a large family? What was her favorite thing to cook? 

Check out these little thrift shop gems!
Sometimes I will get little hints and peeks at the original owners, especially when I'm flipping through cookbooks. I get super excited when I see handwritten notes on the pages, or a news clipping of a recipe tucked between the pages. Sometimes I've found carefully pressed and preserved labels from long gone canned foods with a recipe using whatever was in the can. Those are always fun. Some of those vintage recipes are a little cringe-worthy by today's standards, with lots of weird canned meat products and more gelatin than I can even imagine. Seems like everything was jellied and molded back in the fifties and sixties. I'm actually thankful that trend died off!

Antique stores are another goldmine for vintage and unique kitchen things, although they can get a little spendy at times. Small towns in rural Iowa are fantastic for finding reasonably priced vintage pieces. During the years The Chef and I lived at the lake I often popped in to a couple different antique shops in nearby towns and picked up some beautiful old canning jars and cool glassware pieces, and a number of great local church and community cookbooks. Those are also always fun. I love those cookbooks because you get a name to associate with the recipe, and more than a couple of those names in those old books were familiar. They might be my neighbors' grandmother or mother in law or aunt. I loved finding those connections because then I really could ask about the person and what they were like.

My friend Jessica and I have long been thrift store shopping buddies. A handful of years ago, when we were throwing around the ideas and dreams of owning a tearoom/bistro/gourmet shop together, we often scoured the thrift shops in search of beautiful china pieces and tea services. My garage became the storage facility for things we bought in anticipation of starting this dream business. As it sometimes does, our lives took different paths for a couple years, with real life becoming more urgent than our dream business. That dream is not gone, it's just moved on the ladder of priorities right now. Anyway. we still love thrift shopping, and a couple recent trips yielded some jackpot purchases. I've been able to score some pretty cool cast iron pieces- a pair of matching red enameled cast iron mini Coquettes and a pair of individual cast iron gratin dishes, some very awesome cookbooks, some even signed by the author, and some cool framed art for my dining area.

One of the cookbooks Jessica nabbed was written by Clotilde Dusoulier, and her cookbook, Chocolate and Zucchini, is amazing. Amazon says: "Clotilde Dusoulier is a twenty-seven-year-old Parisian who adores sharing her love of all things food-related—recipes, inspirations, restaurant experiences, and above all the pleasure of cooking with the fresh ingredients found in her local Montmartre shops. But her infatuation with food was born not in her mother’s Parisian kitchen, but in San Francisco, where she moved after college and discovered a new world of tastes. When she returned to her beloved France, her culinary exploits inspired her popular and critically acclaimed blog,

In her first book, Dusoulier provides a glimpse into the life of a young Parisian as she savors all that the city has to offer and shares her cooking philosophy in the form of more than 75 recipes that call for healthy ingredients (such as zucchini) and more indulgent tastes (such as chocolate). The Los Angeles Times calls her recipes "simple, charming, and fun."

Appetizers such as Cumin Cheese Puffs, sandwiches and tarts like Tomato Tatin, soups like Chestnut and Mushroom, main dishes including Mustard Chicken Stew, and desserts like Chocolate and Caramel Tart can all be found alongside menus for entertaining, as well as tips for throwing cocktail or dinner parties with French flair. Chocolate & Zucchini is the book for anyone who has journeyed to Paris and can still recall the delicious flavors and aromas—or for those of us who only dream about them."

As I flipped through the book I found loads of recipes I knew I would love. including this salad. This is my version of the recipe, with very little change from the original. I prefer to leave my peaches' peel intact, since we like the peel, and I have made both with regular balsamic and white balsamic and it's equally delicious with both. Her original recipe used hazelnuts which, sadly, I was not able to find, so I substituted broken English walnuts.

Peachy Summer Chicken Salad

3 ripe peaches or nectarines
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil or olive oil 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and cut in cubes (about 3 cups)
2/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
8 cups (1/2 pound) half baby spinach and half arugula
salt and pepper

Peel the peaches, if desired, and cut into bite sized chunks. Place in a large salad bowl with the chicken, hazelnuts, and baby spinach.

In a small bowl whisk together the oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over the salad. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat with dressing. 

Serve this salad with a cold and crisp white wine such as a German Riesling or a good California Pinot Grigio. I served mine with an iced green tea lemonade and it was the perfect summer dinner. I kinda knew I'd like this salad, but holy smokes, it was so good, so much better than I expected. Perfect mix of sweet and savory, with plenty of protein from the chicken and the walnuts, I didn't even feel like I needed bread to go along with it, and the juicy summer peaches fed that craving for something sweet. You simply must try this recipe!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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