Our first home was a small, two bedroom cape with no air conditioning, but we luckily had a large screen porch which we used practically non stop during warm summer nights. We had invited four couples for dinner. I reconsidered tackling the meal preparations in my hot little kitchen on a very humid New England summer evening. Grilling wouldn’t be a comfortable alternative either. I opted instead to serve a selection of cold but hearty salads I could prepare ahead. To make it especially easy on myself I took advantage of some helpful items found at my local supermarket.
I purchased a two rotisserie chickens, some shredded cabbage, and a variety of seasonal, fresh fruit, and a large head of iceberg lettuce or cabbage (red, preferably). Once home, I began preparing the meal while my home was still relatively cool. I prepared Southern Style Chicken Salad, a recipe I got from Bon Appetit Magazine years ago. I shorten the prep time but using the rotisserie chickens instead of simmering 1 lb. chicken breasts in 1 cup of white wine, fresh dill and pepper in a medium skillet. I diced the chicken and added 1 cup of celery diced, 1 1/2 cup grapes and added the dressing comprised of 1/2 cup mayo, 1/4 cup sliced green onions, 3 tbls. buttermilk, 2 tbls. minced fresh dill (or a tsp. dried) and 1/4 tsp black pepper. The sides would be cole slaw using my friend Jane’s delicious recipe. I like it because it is prepared without mayo. The dressing is: 1/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 1/3 cup sugar or splenda, 1 tsp celery seed, 1/2 cup craisins, 1/2 cup walnuts chopped. Mix the dressing and add to four cups cabbage slaw(half green, half red). Refigerate until ready to serve. The second side was a fruit salad prepared without juice if possible.
I then carefully peeled leaves off of the head of lettuce or cabbage gently washing them and careful to keep their “bowl” shape. My edible plates I arranged on a platter when ready to serve. Get your cold drinks ready, add an easy dip as an appetizer and sorbet with fruit for dessert and your meal preparation is complete. When you are ready to eat, have your guests fill their lettuce bowls with the various salads, grab a fork and a napkin and enjoy a cool and refreshing meal. Remember, clean up is easy !!
TIP: It is tough to entertain in the heat so keep it easy. Salads you can make ahead and serve easily makes for stress free entertaining.