Crowd-pleasing grilled chicken and simple do-ahead summer salads

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Photo by Keri White

More often than not this time of year, dinner comes from the grill to avoid a sweltering kitchen on a hot day.

This grilled chicken dish has become a mainstay in our house; everyone likes it, and the leftovers, when there are any, are beautiful on a salad or sandwich. It goes with virtually anything — grilled veggies, corn on the cob, potato salad, tabbouleh, pasta salad.


We are big fans of boneless chicken breasts for the ease of marinating and cooking, but this would work with any cut — drumsticks, thighs, bone-in breasts. You would just have to lengthen the grilling time and possibly reduce the heat to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked.

The sides below scream summer; cucumbers are at peak harvest in July and August, and dill brings a fresh burst of flavor to the salad. Tomatoes are also coming into their best, and this recipe is a riff on the traditional Italian caprese salad. It skips the cheese, but delivers plenty of flavor without it.

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Both salads can be done well ahead of time, which means simplicity for the cook. The fact there is no last-minute prep — not even dressing these tasty salads — means all you have to do is grill the chicken to put dinner on the table.

Crowd-Pleasing Grilled Chicken

Serves 4


Marinating this overnight makes all the difference in the chicken’s flavor. Since the marinade is a matter of dumping things in a bag, it’s truly worth the small amount of trouble.

Cooking times will vary based on heat of the grill, size of the individual pieces and whether you use bone-in, thighs, etc. These pieces were on the small side and were about ¾ inches thick.

Ingredients
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Directions
Mix the marinade ingredients in a zipper-seal bag. Add the chicken and swish it around to ensure that all pieces are covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours, occasionally giving the bag a shake to keep the pieces thoroughly coated.

One hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.

Heat a grill to medium-high and begin to cook the chicken. Allow the pieces to sear for about 3 minutes, and then rotate them 90 degrees; this creates those delightful-looking grill hash marks. After another 3 minutes, flip the chicken and repeat this process. The chicken cooks on each side for about 6 minutes, or 12 total minutes so far.

Move the chicken pieces to an upper rack of the grill or to the perimeter where the heat is much less intense, and cook for another 6 minutes or so to be sure they are cooked through.

Plate, cover with foil and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Cucumber Dill Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
Generous grinding of fresh cracked pepper
2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced

Directions
Combine the vinegar, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Add the cucumbers, dill and pepper.

Stir again to coat the cucumbers with the vinegar

mixture, and the allow salad to sit for at least 15 minutes at room temperature before serving to blend the flavors. If you leave the salad for longer than an hour, refrigerate it. Bring the salad back to room temperature before serving.

Capres-esque Salad

Serves 4

Traditional caprese salads include tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella — a delicious combination, but one that doesn’t work for kosher diners with grilled chicken. By swapping the cheese for olives, the salad remains pareve/vegan, has great flavor and brings a briny zing to the dish.

Ingredients
3 large, ripe tomatoes (or 4-5 small/medium) cut in large chunks
10 basil leaves cut in ribbons
⅓ cup black, pitted, oil-cured olives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch kosher salt
Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper

Directions
Mix all the ingredients in a shallow bowl and toss.

Allow the salad to sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature to blend the flavors before serving. If you leave the salad for longer than an hour, refrigerate it. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Keri White is a Philadelphia-based food writer.

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