Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Concluding post on the dinner. I posted previously about the starter for this meal, Black Bean Soup, and then following about the Minted Fruit Salad, but I was saving the centerpiece as my entry into this week's special Weekend Herb Blogging Two Year Anniversary post to celebrate this weekly Weekend Herb Blogging event started by Kalyn, and also hosted by her this week at Kalyn's Kitchen.
It was also fun to rise to the challenge of making a meal that was South Beach Diet friendly and met all my guests' requirements for good taste and special diets. My friend Daniel has a slightly different version o fa no/low-carb diet as well. My other guests, Dad & Paul were only interested of course in a tasty meal. Could I make something that would be so vibrant and full of flavor that my bread-loving Dad and lover of good food Paul would enjoy so much that they wouldn't notice the lack of starches?
I'm happy to report that I was successful. A variation of a memory of a salad recipe discovered in Sunset magazine years ago, the Poached Gingered Chicken Make Your Own Salad dish was a great hit.
My herbs, mint and ginger were in the poaching water. My vegetables, well you decide, but the plate included red leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, sauteed mushrooms, arugula, orange bell pepper, English cucumber, and edamame. I was going to add an avocado too, but ran out of room! I'll write about mint (which was from a pot on my deck), and the arugula for your interest however.
Mint: Wikipedia has a lot to say about what is more properly known as mentha. Mentha is a genus with about 25 species and hundreds of varieties, not including hybrids, which are popular with this plant. Mint is quite hardy and tolerates a wide variety of conditions, although it likes cool, moist climates best (no wonder it grew so prolifically where I grew up in Western Washington). The health benefits of mint have long been reputed to be soothing to the digestive system.
Arugula: Grown in the Mediterranean since Roman times, arugula is also popularly known as rocket. It has a peppery taste and is full of iron and vitamin C. Most often used in salads, this leafy green has also been used as a substitute for basil in pestos. According to Food & Wine magazine, arugula is in the same family as cauliflower and broccoli and has similar powerful antioxidant benefits.
So how did I make this salad? It was quite easy really. Besides the chicken, most ingredients were a matter of washing, slicing if necessary, and artfully arranging on the platter. The edamame were pre-cooked and shelled, and I took a pound of white sliced mushrooms and sauteed them in sesame oil until they were reduced and the flavor intensified. I made my own dressing to keep to the no carbs theme, mixing about 3/4 cup rice vinegar with 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil and about a tablespoon of Birch Sugar (xylitol), sea salt & pepper.
To poach the chicken take a large piece of ginger (half the size of my hand), peel and make into match sticks. Put most of the ginger in the bottom of a covered baking pan filled 3/4 or slightly more with filtered water. I placed fresh organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts on top, then put the remaining ginger matchsticks on top, and floated some leaves of fresh mint. I put this in a 350F oven for about 40 minutes and it came out perfectly. I then removed the breasts from the water and sliced diagonally across to make the center of the salad arrangement. Don't cook the breasts too long or they will become tough. When just right they are moist and infused with the ginger/mint flavors. These are wonderful for salad topping.
Happy 2nd birthday Weekend Herb Blogging! Thanks Kalyn for creating this fun event!