Picnic Time! Pimm’s Cup and Pineapple Chicken Salad

I love summer.  It’s MY time. And, my birthday (and CAKE!) is right smack in the middle of it.

I look forward to summer as soon as the days become noticeably shorter in late October. While some people hate the heat and humidity, I actually like it. Don’t get me wrong, I may occasionally complain if it’s truly oppressive, but the fact that I can throw on a sundress, open all the windows, and head to the beach makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. Since my summers are wide open (I’m a teacher) I spend most of my time outdoors.

Summer food means lighter fare and picnicking outdoors! Summer’s bounty is being harvested, the backyard grills are smoking, and the cocktails are lighter and prepared with in-season fruit. Deciding on WHAT to bring on a picnic is always a dilemma. Should it be a selection of cheeses and wine or salads and cocktails? Fried chicken? Or, should we just go pick up lobster rolls and a bag of chips? In the end, the food tastes amazing when you’re outdoors. Here’s what I brought to an outdoor concert at Castle Hill, along with a selection of hard and soft cheeses. Pimm’s Cup is an old English summer cocktail. It’s refreshing and beautiful. Eat the fruit!

Pimm’s Cup 

Makes a pitcher to share with friends

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Pimms No.1
  • 2 liter bottle of lemon-lime soda or Ginger-Ale
  • 2 navel oranges, peeled, seeded, and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 pint of organic strawberries, chopped into small pieces (they’re on the Dirty Dozen – buy organic)
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, and chopped into small pieces
  • handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Directions: Toss the fruit and mint leaves in the pitcher. Add the Pimms and give it a good stir. Let sit a few minutes and add enough of the lemon-lime soda to your taste. Refrigerate.  Serve in a double old-fashioned glass (or clear, plastic cup) with lots of ice and a spoonful of the fruit mixture.

Cheers!

Pimms Cup

Pineapple Chicken Salad

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3# chicken breast, grilled, cooled, and chopped
  • 2C cooked wild and long grain rice blend (Uncle Ben’s is best)
  • 1C fresh pineapple chunks (use canned if you can’t find fresh; reserve the juice)
  • ⅔C pineapple juice
  • ½C champagne or white wine vinegar
  • ¾C EVOO
  • 1½t sea salt
  • 1t sugar
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ¼C fresh tarragon, minced
  • ¾C scallions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1C slivered almonds

Directions: Cook the rice according to package directions. Cool rice completely. Make the pineapple vinaigrette by combing the pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and fresh grind of pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the EVOO to create an emulsion. You can use a blender, hand mixer, or a whisk to do this.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice, grilled chicken, tarragon, scallions, celery, and almonds in a large serving bowl. Add three-quarters of the vinaigrette and toss. Season to taste. If you like a drier salad, leave it as is. If you are refrigerating the salad overnight and the rice absorbs all the dressing you should add the remainder of the dressing.

Rice Salad

 

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