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Easy Outdoor Eating for the Summer

Justin Fox Burks

In the Summer, I just love to go to outdoor concerts like the ones at Live at the Garden and Levitt Shell.

My go-to dish to make for outdoor dining at events like these is my Grilled Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Blue Cheese.

This is my fun twist on chicken salad. Colorful and flavorful, it’s a one-dish meal that’s perfect for taking on a picnic and for feeding a group.  Serve it with some crusty bread and you have a satisfying meal.

Unlike most traditional chicken salads, this recipe has no mayonnaise in it.  Instead, I use Dijon mustard as both the marinade and the base of the binder. Dijon mustard is one of my most used kitchen staples. It’s the simplest of ingredients but it is so versatile and imparts a ton of flavor. A quick-acting marinade, this piquant mustard enhances the chicken breasts in a matter of minutes. To reinforce the flavor of the marinade and to bring the ingredients all together, a simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette is drizzled over the whole salad.

Grilling the chicken ahead of time makes the salad even easier to put together. In fact, all the ingredients can be cooked up to 1 day ahead.  This is helpful since this dish is served cold.

Sautéed red onions, red bell peppers, yellow peppers, and asparagus give this salad a pop of color.

I recommend using pencil-thin asparagus rather than the ones with thicker stalks.  I not only find the thinner asparagus more tender, but the smaller size makes it so you can have a little bit of all the ingredients in each delicious bite.

Crumbled blue cheese adds a delicious zing to the dish.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Grilled Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Blue Cheese

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided                    
  • 6 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, tough woody ends snapped off and discarded
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • Vegetable oil, for grates
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola

In a shallow nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, stir together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of the mustard. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables. Cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Over high heat, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until vibrant green and crisp tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and rinse with cold water to cool. Reserve.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.

Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning once, until no longer pink in the middle, 6 to 8 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the asparagus, red onion, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons mustard and toss to coat. Add the crumbled blue cheese and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Do-Ahead: This dish can be made prepared and assembled the night before. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Reprinted with permission from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler.

I began piano lessons at age 6, trumpet at age 9, and began teaching myself the guitar at 10. My electronics knowledge comes from my father, who had the RCA television and stereo shop in my hometown of Pocahontas, Arkansas for nearly 20 years. My dad is still fixing televisions at age 79.