At this time of year, tossing just about anything from the garden with some acid, salt and olive oil gets you a delicious salad or salsa or relish or pickle or … you name it. Combine that with tortillas and sour cream, and dinner is on the table in no time flat.
For something a little more substantial for those who have grown tired of salad and vegetables as dinner, Mexican Chicken and Red Rice Salad may hit the spot. It’s an easy recipe, but to make it even easier, you can grill the chicken the day before.
For dessert, try Raspberry-Chocolate Shortcake. When raspberries come into season, there isn’t anything I don’t want to make with them. I cannot get enough of the sweet, lemony burst of warm juice that each berry brings. Thank goodness we have several rows of raspberry bushes in our garden to make this addiction possible (and affordable!). And since I am indulging in my favorite foods, I combine the raspberries here with chocolate biscuits – a wonderful marriage.
Mexican Chicken Salad with Pineapple-Avocado SALSA
You will need 3 cups cooked red rice, either warm or chilled – the salad is good both ways; 3/4 cup raw rice will make that amount. Cook it as you would brown rice; it takes 40 to 45 minutes, twice as long as white rice. Look for red rice in the grocery store specialty section. It is soft, has a nutty flavor and is high in fiber and iron. The salad is best served soon after you make it.
Serves 6 to 8
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 cups cooked red rice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice from 1 lime (about 6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 head romaine lettuce
Combine all the ingredients except the romaine in a large bowl. Taste for salt and lime and correct the seasoning if necessary. Arrange the romaine leaves fanned out on a platter. Spoon the salad on top. Top with the Pineapple-Avocado Salsa and serve immediately.
Makes about 21/2 cups
2 avocados, diced
3/4 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash or two of hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
I use my hands to mix the biscuits so I can feel exactly how much moisture the dough has absorbed. Garnish the shortcakes with mint leaves, if you like.
Serves 6 to 8
1 quart raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine raspberries and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
To make the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a knife until the butter lumps are pea sized or smaller. Add buttermilk, holding back a little to see whether you need to use it or if the ingredients are moistened and come together without it. If you need it, add the buttermilk you reserved. Mix only until the dough just comes together.
Transfer the dough to a floured counter and gently press to 1-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut 6 to 8 shortcakes. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until both the top and bottom of each biscuit form a crust. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To make the whipped cream, whisk the ingredients together by hand or with an electric mixer until soft, fluffy peaks have formed.
To assemble the shortcakes, break each cooled shortcake in half and place the bottoms on plates or in bowls. Divvy up the macerated fruit and whipped cream over the shortcake bottoms. Top with the shortcake tops.
Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at: