It’s time. Yesterday I went to the garden center and bought pink dahlias, purple daisies, and some fancy dirt. Also floppy petunias, striated coleus and the start of a little herb garden. I am a city gardener, a small timer who dwells on the third floor and has access to a back deck overlooking a parking lot. Our gardening is done in containers and consists mostly of flowers. It is mostly tame and decorative. Mostly. Periodically, I channel my father and one year I conjured (I say conjured because it seemed implausible that such a thing could actually grow) a tomato plant that might have auditioned for the lead in The Little Shop of Horrors. But this post is not about vegetables that might compete at a state fair, no.
My forays into flower gardening suggest that soon we shall have weeks full of warm breezes and summer picnics, girlfriends who will visit, and brunch on the back deck. We will eat things that crunch, which will be accompanied by sweet drinks with lots of ice. In honor of lunching outdoors once more, I am making a green apple chicken salad with dried cranberries and fresh parsley. Here are the flavors of summer Sunday brunch, picnics and lunch with my friends.
Green Apple Chicken Salad
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 cups cooked and diced into half-inch cubes)
1 ½ cups diced celery
1 ½ cups peeled and diced Granny Smith or your favorite apple
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup plain yogurt
A dollop of Dijon mustard if you like
½ tsp dried tarragon, also optional
Handful of minced parsley
Salt-pepper-sugar to taste
Oven roast bone-in chicken breasts until tender and then shred, or poach chicken breasts in aromatic liquids of choice. I use a combination of chicken broth and white wine, some sliced onion, celery, and rosemary. Use enough to cover the chicken and simmer in the poaching liquid for about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from heat and cool. Dice into cubes or shred.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix with a rubber spatula and chill in the refrigerator for an hour. This chicken salad tastes better if it has a few hours to sit while all the flavors commingle.