By Cat, June 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
About 35 years ago I was invited at the last minute to a picnic. I had just relocated from Portland to Eugene and was excited to make some new friends and impress them with my creative cuisine. I checked my fridge and pantry and came up with a very tasty combo: bibb lettuce “bowls” filled with a mixture of shredded chicken, slivered almonds, blanched green peas, and snipped chives in a sour cream dressing (with a hint of mayo). Everyone wanted my recipe!
Boston, Butterhead (or Butter), or Bibb lettuce are all very similar and can substitute for one another in this recipe.
Butter (or Bibb) Lettuce Salad, with Chicken, Almonds & Peas
All the ingredients for this salad (except the lettuce) can be made ready ahead of time, but butter lettuce is very tender and wilts easily, so it is best to assemble this salad right before serving.
You can use Buttermilk or Garlic Ranch Dressing as an alternative to the creamy garlic dressing included here.
Serves 3 – 4
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 8 Tbsp Crème Fraiche or sour cream
- 2 Tbsp raw cream (or whipping cream)
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- cubed, cooked meat of 1 – 2 brined chicken breast halves, about 8 – 10 oz of meat
- 6 oz shelled peas, about 1 1/2 cups (alternately, use green beans, snow peas or sugar-snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ segments)
- 1/2 – 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1 medium cucumber (optional)
- 1 – 2 Tbsp thinly sliced or snipped chives (or the green part of scallions)
- 2 large heads butterhead lettuce (Boston or Bibb), trimmed
- Dressing: Chop garlic on wood cutting board. Sprinkle with a 1/4 tsp salt and press with side of a knife blade to form a paste. Transfer paste to small bowl.
- Squeeze 1/2 Tbsp juice from a fresh lemon, discarding any seeds. Mix juice with garlic in bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraiche and cream. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Salad: If using, peel cucumber (English or very young cucs do not need to be peeled unless they have been waxed); halve lengthwise, scrape out seeds. Slice thinly at a diagonal. Set aside.
- Blanch peas in large pan of rapidly boiling, lightly salted water. Cook, uncovered, 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain; immediately place in bowl of lightly salted ice water to chill. Let sit 3 – 5 minutes until cold; drain.
- Combine chicken, almonds, peas, chives in large bowl; add dressing and toss until all ingredients are coated; taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer to refrigerator to chill until ready to serve
- Assemble salad: Wait until ready to serve; then: line serving bowls with lettuce leaves; add a serving of the chicken mixture to center of bowl and arrange a portion of cucumber slices around the edge of the chicken mixture.
- Alternately: Tear lettuce onto a platter or wide, shallow bowl; scoop chicken mix onto the bed of lettuce, spreading it out a bit. Arrange the cucumber slices around the edge of the chicken mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper.