Today, I’ll be filling you in on the downright most simple meal ever to be heralded from the Scrumptious Company screen. I know from time to time, I claim that this dinner or that recipe is relatively uncomplicated. Relative to the big to-do’s I normally find myself in the midst of. But this meal, I promise you, is nothing but easy. And that’s an absolute, not relative to anything at all. This meal, the last I’ll share with you from my time as a private chef down in North Carolina, is so darn easy, it’s nearly effortless.
It’s not that I wandered down this easy street just for the sake of it. (As most of you have probably figured out by now, easy is something I all too rarely do.) But in the midst of a busy week, preparing meal after elaborate meal for a hungry family of fifteen, a simple supper every now and again is positively a must. And so, on this midweek afternoon, I found myself quickly throwing together this all too easy feast.
The only dish that required any proper effort at all was the Green Goddess Chicken Salad (and I’ll get to that in a minute). All the rest involved nothing more than a quick tossing of mixed greens, a brief toasting of hearty country bread, a speedy boiling of corn on the cob and a swift slicing of fruit and tomatoes. This was all so simple, so rudimentary, so basic, I never even thought I’d end up sharing it with all of you.
It wasn’t until I saw the table all set for lunch, that I realized, this food was absolutely beautiful, regardless of what effort it did or didn’t take. Toasty artisan bread from the nearby village bakery, corn and fruit and tomatoes, all at the height of their summer glory, and a perfect salad of tender greens. How could it get any better than that? And why would you ever need to try any harder, with all this so easily at your fingertips? I knew right then, you all needed to see it!
So now let me tell you a bit about that chicken salad. I fortuitously stumbled upon this delightful recipe just minutes before heading to the airport, bound for the Carolinas. A flattering mug shot of this photogenic dish was on the cover of one of my old Food & Wine’s. This particular issue had, over the course of my haphazard filing and re-filing, somehow made it’s way to the top of one of the tall and rickety stacks of old cooking magazines that are somehow maintaining an upright balance on my office floor. This beautiful cover with the colorful salad caught my eye and just struck me with it’s gorgeousness. And so, even though I already had all my meals planned out by then, I stuffed this charmer of a magazine into my carry-on bag, with the thought that an extra recipe or two could never hurt.
To say the least, I’m glad I made that last-minute grab. This Green Goddess chicken salad was a real winner. Strips of tender chicken (already cooked, rotisserie-style, to keep within the bounds of easy), thin shavings of crunchy, pale green celery, wide slices of smoky roasted red peppers, oblong hemispheres of briny kalamata olives, tiny rings of sliced chives, and a good handful of toothsome spiral-shaped noodles. All of this cloaked in a creamy, green-tinted dressing of basil, dill, parsley, and oregano. A hint of garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and just a touch of finely chopped anchovy, not so much that you’d ever even notice, just enough to give a little added depth of flavor. This tremendous mix of flavors was sensational, and every last bite was quickly gobbled up. More quickly than it even took to make!
Oh yes, and then dessert. You’re really going to laugh now. If lunch was simple, dessert was a pure breeze. I do confess that I didn’t even bake the cake. This glazed lemon cake was a family favorite from the local pastry shop, loved my everyone, and nothing short a summer tradition. All I did was scoop some vanilla ice cream and slice some peaches. But, for the sake of my own traditions, I’d still like to leave you all with a recipe. And so, I’m including below a really wonderful recipe for similar glazed lemon pound cake, one I’ve made on more than one occasion, and always to rave reviews. Of course, the idea of turning on the oven does tend to ruin the easy-breezy mood of this post. And I bet you all have a favorite sweet shop nearby too. So, for today at least, I say go ahead and take the easy (dare I say, lazy) route. Because we all deserve some delicious laziness every now and again.