Beyond the natural world, survival of the fittest perhaps is most prevalent in the kitchen.
In the course of establishing how you cook, some ingredients emerge as the work horses, the indispensable elements that lay the foundation for your cooking. In the back of my mind, I can hear my dad bemoan me reaching for the garlic, again. He never appreciated the sweet finer points of this pungent menace. And, it might go without saying, but the role of any allium relative makes most dishes better. It’s the Leonardo di Caprio of my kitchen. Glossy purple shallots make way for green strands of chives and during that small portal when spring onions make their way onto the plate, a small celebration could easily ensue with confetti and streamers.
Who, then, gets excited about the green bell pepper. When stacked next to its sexier counterpart the yellow pepper or the vitamin-C rich and much touted red pepper, the green pepper lowers its expectations. When was the last time you saw it as the featured ingredient?
Maybe it can be attributed to how common it is, and in the world of the bigger! better! shinier! new! why reflect on the tried and true? But, I, for one, have not given up on the green bell pepper. Though I don’t celebrate it often enough, think of what it can offer: crunch. deep flavor without heat. color. To kick off the bell pepper revival, I’m packing up jars of this savory salad perfect for summer potlucks.
I found the foil to show off and spiff up the bell pepper, letting it shine in all of its humble and oh-so-common glory in a sauce usually attributed to beef. But, this is a chimichurri that might seem a distant Greek relative to the Argentine version with the addition of whole milk yogurt stirred into the sauce. Don’t be put off by the small amount of bell pepper used in the recipe- a little provides ample flavor. This salad, like summer requires the bare minimum. Stir up a batch of creamy chimichurri, shred a rotisserie chicken and chop. You might even find a few of your workhorse ingredients in the mix.
Below is a recipe for a chicken salad with creamy chimichurri sauce. Since you will only be using a small portion of the sauce, you might be wondering what else you can do with the creamy chimichurri sauce. The obvious idea is to smear some sauce on a chicken burger or use it to marinate beef for grilling on skewers. Then again, you’ve got a simple appetizer ready. Rustle up some green bell pepper slices, radish halves or even wishbone cuttings of fennel for crudités to sidle up against this piquant sauce.
YIELD: 2 cups
– 1 ¾ cups parsley leaves, thick stems removed
– ¼ cup cilantro leaves
– 2 large or 3 small garlic cloves
– 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
– 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup whole yogurt
Chop the parsley, cilantro and garlic into one another until minced. Place the minced parsley, cilantro, garlic mixture in a small bowl. Stir in the red pepper flakes, vinegar, olive oil and yogurt. Add freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste.
Chicken Salad with Creamy Chimichurri Sauce
YIELD: 4-6 servings
– 2 cups of cooked buckwheat
– 1 cup shredded chicken
– ¼ green bell pepper, minced
– 1 small summer squash, minced
– 2 tablespoons minced chives
– ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
– 2 broccoli trunks, minced (with the woody part peeled off the outside)
– ¼ cup creamy chimichurri sauce
Spoon the buckwheat into a large bowl. Over the buckwheat add in the shredded chicken and minced squash, bell pepper, chives, and broccoli trunk chunks. Stir in the creamy chimichurri sauce until coated. Garnish with the chopped parsley.