Joni Woolf: Something old, something new — two good salads

Published 1:55 pm Monday, May 14, 2018

Last Sunday I was searching through old recipes for something to take to the Calvary Ladies Book Club supper and book review. I came across a recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Salad, given me by a Macon neighbor many years ago. I had not prepared it in quite a while and could not remember how much I liked it (or didn’t), but it sounded good, so I decided to try it. It helped that I had all the ingredients on hand, except cilantro, and my daughter had some, so I prepared it, took it to the meeting, and brought none home. I did have some leftover chicken in the freezer, so the next day I made the same recipe, for me. I have now enjoyed it four days in a row! I don’t recommend that to readers, but it does last well, with nothing in it to break down, except the cilantro. Those leaves become less stable, but the taste lingers so it is not a problem. Here’s the recipe:

Chicken and Black Bean Salad
2 large limes
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, cored and diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced (I grated them)
½ medium red onion, diced
½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound boneless chicken pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl, combine beans, tomato, carrots, onion and cilantro. Set aside. Grate 1 teaspoon lime zest, then squeeze limes for ½ cup juice. In small bowl, whisk lime zest and juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, sugar and pepper sauce. Set aside. In large skillet over medium heat, put remaining olive oil and chili powder and cook chicken pieces till done. Let cool. Combine cooked chicken that has been cut into bite-sized pieces, bean mixture and lime dressing in large bowl. Toss well to coat. Serves 4 to 6.

I have always loved German Potato Salad, and when Beth Alston gave me a cookbook, entitled simply “Rockenwagner,” by German chef and author Hans Rockenwagner, I found this recipe and recommend it highly. Unlike the more familiar recipes that include crisply cooked bacon, this one is perfect for those who do not eat meat. And, it features a favorite kind of potato, those little small red ones. Try it. You’ll like it.

German Potato Salad
12 Red Bee or small red potatoes (golf ball-sized), washed and cut into eighths
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

½ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions, green parts only, sliced 1/8 inch on the diagonal
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 thin slices red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and black pepper and toss to coat well. Transfer the potatoes to a large baking sheet and roast in the oven until they are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, green onions, celery, red onion, mustard and red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Toss the slightly warm potatoes with the dressing until they are evenly coated, then serve immediately. The salad keeps well for 2 days in the refrigerator.

There are good things to eat, everywhere. So, don’t be afraid to stretch your boundaries and try new ways of preparing familiar foods. Cooking is an adventure. It never ends.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at