Things have been heavy lately. Aside from the obvious cultural climate, it’s been heavy here on the blog, too. The past handful of recipes have included two kinds of cookies, pot roast, mashed potatoes, garlic bread and chicken wings… I never knew I could be thankful to see salad on the list.
For those just now joining my journey, I’m on the third of four posts that cover NINE recipes, all made by Sookie when Lorelai invites Luke and Jess to dinner in season 2 episode 5: Nick & Nora, Sid & Nancy. In all honesty, I think they just threw the “four salads” into the line just to add to the magnitude of food they planned on having at dinner… because did Sookie really expect the Gilmores to consume four different kinds of salad? We all know how they reacted to Dean in season one when he merely opened his salad when he brought over pizza. I guess it would also be in Sookie’s nature to totally ignore their picky tendencies and create a feast simply for the sake of creating one.
I actually really enjoyed the challenge of finding four salads that Sookie would potentially include in a potluck style menu. I felt like she wouldn’t have just brought four different kinds of green salads, (that would be too boring!) plus we have a little bit of evidence in the screenshot of the table in the buffet-line scene (see below.)
There’s clearly some kind of red cabbage slaw salad at the end of the table, and then a bowl of what could either be pasta or chicken salad in the far left corner (honestly I didn’t look closely enough when I was brainstorming recipes, but I chose to make chicken salad anyway, so let’s go with that) and a green leafy salad on their plates, leaving only one salad to really figure out for myself.
I ended up compiling four pretty diverse salads that included:
- Lemon-Dill Chicken Salad (gotta work that Meyer lemon in there ;)) – an original by yours truly!
- Red Cabbage Citrus Slaw modified from Real Simple
- Broccoli Avocado Salad modified from Williams-Sonoma
- Green Goddess Salad modified from Panera Bread (my personal fave!)
If you’re thinking that a tableful of salads are boring – think again! These babies include all kinds of bright flavors from citruses, tangy mustards, creamy avocado to crispy bacon. They were so good I ate off the leftovers for several days in a row!
These salads would be perfect for any kind of shower or light lunch gathering, you know, once we can actually get together again to celebrate things; however, to also end on a lighter note, if you’re like me and feeling not-so-light this week, remember that we are in this together. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but like my Instagram post from Wednesday said, if anyone needs a listening ear, this is a safe space for all my Gilmore sisters (and brothers!). Reach out to me anytime.
Lemon Dill Chicken Salad
1 – 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked/shredded)
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup celery, chopped
2 – 3 sprigs fresh dill
1 sprig fresh tarragon
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, plus zest
¼ tsp kosher salt
⅛ tsp coarse black pepper
⅛ tsp white pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste and cook for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Let cool enough to shred with two forks. Combine the shredded chicken in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight for best quality.
Red Cabbage Citrus Slaw (from Real Simple)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 medium red cabbage (about 1 1⁄2 pounds), cored and shredded
⅓ cup shredded carrots
Core and shred the red cabbage. Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients and chill for at least 45 minutes before serving.
Broccoli Avocado Salad (modified from Williams-Sonoma Soups, Salads & Starters)
1 medium head of broccoli florets
1 avocado, cubed
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ cooked bacon, chopped
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Chop the head of broccoli into florets and cube the avocado. Boil the broccoli in a pot of salted water and then drain and blanch in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and combine in a large bowl with cooked bacon. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper until combined. Pour over broccoli mixture and toss. Serve immediately or chilled.
Green Goddess Salad (modified from Panera Bread)
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 oz. (weighed) fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp shallot, minced
2 tbsp basil pesto
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp + 1 teaspoon agave syrup
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 handfuls fresh parsley
pinch of kosher salt & coarse black pepper
1 box spinach & arugula greens
1 box cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 avocados cubed
Chop the basil and shallot. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Combine salad ingredients and pour dressing on top.