Summertime Weather Calls for Summertime Food

The weather is getting warmer and that means it’s time to change the menu.

Grilled food practically screams “summer.”  So, this week, when I entertained some friends and family, grilling was the first and only option for my menu.  Of course, living in an apartment has its restrictions when it comes to grills (the charcoal grill by the pool that’s constantly being used to host hot dogs and hamburgers was just NOT going to cut it).  Luckily, I have an awesome Le Creuset cast iron grill pan that works PERFECTLY for indoor grill.

I decided on grilled chicken with nectarine salsa on top of a “best-dressed salad”.  It was light, refreshing, satisfying, and easy to serve to 5 people.  This was an experiment gone good–a recipe I will most definitely use again this summer.  I highly recommend it for company because it looks like a lot of work, but it’s really very simple.

Necessities for the Chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Your favorite dry rub (I used a generic brand and it was delicious)
  • Canola Oil (just enough to brush on the grill pan.  Omit this if you are using a grill)

Necessities for the Salad:

  • Baby Spring Mix Salad (one “box”)
  • Olive Oil
  • Freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper

Necessities for the Salsa:

  • 4 ripe nectarines, diced
  • Half of a sweet onion, chopped
  • One jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Half of a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil (a very light drizzle)

How It’s Done:

  1. Put the dry rub on the chicken about an hour before you want to cook it.  Do not refrigerate, but rather let the chicken come to room temp with the dry rub on it.
  2. While you’re waiting for the chicken to come to room temp, make the salsa.  Combine the chopped bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion in a bowl.  Add the diced nectarines and toss together.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add a small drizzle of olive oil and toss again.
  4. Finally, add the chopped cilantro and toss again.  Taste it and see if it needs anything more–onion, salt, pepper, etc.  Cover and let it sit at room temp until it’s time to serve.
  5. Heat the grill pan (or grill) to medium high heat.  If using a grill pan, brush lightly with some Canola oil first (I choose this oil for my grill pan because it has a higher smoking point)
  6. Once the grill pan is heated, place 2 of the chicken breasts on, facing 10 o’clock.  Cook for 4 minutes
  7. Turn the chicken (but DO NOT FLIP) to  the 2 o’clock position (think of the face of a clock for my crazy clock references.  Cooking it at “10” first and then at “2” will give the chicken that perfect criss-cross grill mark!)  Cook for another 4 minutes.
  8. Finally, flip the chicken.  You only need pretty grill marks on one side of the chicken, so place the chicken on this side anyway you like.  Cook for another 4 minutes
  9. Repeat with last two chicken breasts’
  10. REMEMBER TO GIVE IT A REST for about 5-1o minutes, tented with foil
  11. Make the Best Dressed Salad (recipe on this blog somewhere!)
  12. Once the chicken has rested, place a small (palmful) of the dressed salad on the middle of each plate.  Slice the chicken in thick slices, at a diagonal angle.  Fan out 5-6 pieces in a circular patter on top of the salad.
  13. Place a heaping spoonful of the nectarine salsa in the middle of the chicken circle.
  14. Serve and wait for the “oohs” and “aahs”

*Variations: Substitute diced pineapple or diced mango for the nectarines

NOTE: I’m learning as I write this blog that I REALLY need to start taking pictures of my finished dishes.  I promise I will get pics up here ASAP!!

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