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Food & Entertaining

Summertime Salad

Author: Carly Scholl
Issue: June, 2016, Page 42
Photos by Grace Stufkosky

Chef Mel Mecinas pairs his spicy chicken salad with a crisp rose, Pillsbury Wine Company’s One Night Stand.
Fresh fruits and grilled chicken with a chipotle kick give this seasonal salad a mouthwatering appeal

Welcome to Perfect Pairings, our new regular locavore feature. We present a recipe created by a local chef, along with the chef’s recommendation for an Arizona wine to complement the dish. Many chefs in the state source their ingredients locally, bringing regional flair to their cuisine, and the addition of wines from Arizona’s rapidly expanding vitner industry creates a dining experience unique to the Southwest.

From chef Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North comes an entree salad full of mixed produce and flavors both savory and sweet. “This salad combines fresh flavors, seasonal fruits and a hint of Mexican spice,” says Mecinas. “It’s both refreshing and filling, a perfect meal for a hot summer night.” Ripe berries blend smoothly with sticks of nutty jicama and crunchy kale, while spicy chipotle grilled chicken is diffused by sweet papayas. Top it off with a blueberry dressing.

Mecinas suggests pairing this salad with a crisp rose, such as One Night Stand by local winemaker Sam Pillsbury of Pillsbury Wine Company in Cottonwood. Made from a Tablas Creek clone of the Chateau Beaucastel varietal, this aromatic wine with notes of ripe fruits, including strawberry and watermelon, and herbaceous hints balances beautifully with the jicama, blueberry and dijon mustard, while its traditional Provecal-style freshness offsets the smoky chipotle spice.

Chef Mel Mecinas’ Chipotle Chicken Salad.

Serves 4

4 skinless chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each
½ cup chipotle powder
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1½ cups baby kale
1 cup Mexican papaya, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup jicama, peeled and julienned
1 cup strawberries, cut into quarters
1 cup fresh blueberries

Blueberry Dressing
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup honey
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
1½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste

photo by Thomas Ale Johnson
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken breasts on both sides with chipotle powder, salt and pepper. Add oil to a large saute pan on medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown. Finish in oven for about 12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from oven and set aside.

To make dressing, add blueberries, Dijon mustard, honey and white balsamic vinegar to a blender. Blend on high speed into a smooth consistency. Reduce speed to low and slowly add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Before serving, slice chicken breasts into thin strips. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, toss baby kale, papaya, jicama, strawberries and blueberries with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly onto 4 chilled salad plates. Place equal amounts of chicken on top of each salad. Serve immediately.

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