Starting with Santa Maria’s party last week, I’ve been on a great run in the kitchen. That gumbo I made for that gathering was so remarkable, I’m still a bit stunned from it. There hasn’t been a flavor like it in the house before or since.
The party was so jumping, that I forgot to take a picture of the finished dish (that’s one of my failings as a food blogger, I tend to get too excited about eating to stop and photograph my meal). I don’t have time right now to do that gumbo justice, but I promise I will share that recipe with you very shortly (If you can’t wait, just go to page 202 of “Man with a Pan,” which is where I got the recipe in the first place).
This morning, I doubled down and made a chili—using a hand-scribbled recipe from my earliest days in the kitchen, well before kids, this blog, and “Man with a Pan.” I also relied on a distinct memory of smoky Spanish paprika, which makes all the difference in the world in that dish. I’ll have more about the chili soon, too.
I want to put off talking about those bigger meals because I want to take it easy tonight. Today, I realized that to survive as a parent and spouse I need to behave like a shark, and always keep moving (I made that chili, cooked pancakes, drew three cartoons, cleaned and put into storage three air conditioners, washed all our sheets, towels, and dirty clothes, went for a run, cooked spaghetti alle vongole for dinner, and put the kids to bed)—so I’ll just talk about my lunch.
Santa Maria took the kids out of the house this morning on a long excursion, so I could have time to do some drawing, so I made a simple meal for myself. I had a bit of cooked chicken left over from earlier in the week (I’ve gotten in the habit of roasting an extra bird each week, and using it to make lunches and dinners), and I thought a chicken salad would be nice.
I diced a stalk of celery, cut up a scallion, and chopped some fresh parsley. We don’t keep mayonnaise in the house, for reasons I’ve long forgotten (something to do with Santa Maria not liking it, and me having little or no use for it), but I needed something to bind the chicken with the other ingredients. I briefly contemplated making my own mayonnaise, but after getting the blender out, decided against it—I might want to be a shark, but I don’t want to be a crazy one: I had enough to do around the house as it was—and I simply whipped together fresh lemon juice and olive oil. I added a bit of feta and some black pepper, and placed it on freshly toasted rye bread. It was just the thing I needed.
Impromptu Chicken Salad
- ½ lb. diced cooked chicken meat (ideally leftovers), and this amount can vary; adjust other seasonings accordingly.
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 scallion, finely sliced
- 1 fistful of fresh parsley or other herb, diced
- small bit of feta, diced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 4 slices of fresh bread, toasted
Combine in a bowl all the ingredients save for the olive oil and lemon juice.
Whisk together the lemon juice and the olive oil, and pour over the salad, and stir. Add pepper, and maybe salt, depending on how salty your feta cheese is.
Serve the salad on the toast and eat immediately.