SUMMER WEATHER IS finally here and that often means hot, humid days. When outside temperatures hit the high 80s and 90s, coming up with a dinner plan can be a struggle. Even standing outside cooking on a hot grill can be downright unpleasant.
If you find yourself in the midst of a heatwave and you can’t face turning on the oven, seems it’s time to whip up a few sandwiches.
A couple of weeks ago I was out of town and my 20-year-old son and his 17-year-old brother had to fend for themselves for dinner for a couple of days.
I returned home to discover one of them had bought a rotisserie chicken, picked the meat off the bones and mixed it with a rather generous amount of mayonnaise. Whoever made it must’ve been eating it right out of the bowl because they left a fork in it and attempted to cover the dish with plastic wrap. This didn’t work out too well. When I finally found the container in the back of the fridge, the plastic wrap was all bunched up and the top of the chicken salad had turned brown and foul.
This probably doesn’t sound like an inspiring situation, but through this discovery I realized my kids like chicken salad. I’ve never bothered to make it but I thought I would give it a try with the leftover grilled chicken and see if I could add flavor instead of just mixing the chicken with mayonnaise.
I used a store-bought lemon-dill seasoned aioli and mixed that with the grilled chicken along with chopped celery and minced shallot. Instead of using regular sandwich bread I used croissants and I topped the salad with avocado, lettuce and tomatoes. Apparently the salad was a hit because I didn’t find any half-full bowls of chicken salad abandoned in the fridge with forks still in them.
One of my favorite sandwiches is a BLT — bacon, lettuce and tomato, of course. For dinner one night I made a BLT-inspired sandwich. I added fresh mozzarella cheese slices and basil leaves and used a horseradish mayo and sourdough bread. It was an excellent combination.
If you don’t mind firing up the grill to make a sandwich, throw deli ham on the grill to heat it up and give it a little charred flavor. You can also stick the bread on the grill and add your favorite cheese so it will melt (I used focaccia bread with Swiss cheese), then add your favorite fixings and you have a quick dinner.
Grilled Chicken Salad
3 cups grilled chicken, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup store bought lemon-dill aioli
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 croissants, cut in half horizontally
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced, if desired
1 avocado, peeled and sliced, if desired
Kale leaves, if desired
Add the chicken, celery, shallot, aioli, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a bowl and mix well to combine. Spoon an equal amount of chicken salad onto the bottom half of each croissant, then top with avocado and tomato slices. Add kale leaves, if desired, and the top of the croissant. Serve immediately.
Grilled Ham on Focaccia with Swiss
8-inch round store-bought focaccia, sliced in half horizontally
4 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1/4 cup sliced banana peppers
1 medium tomato, sliced
Green leaf lettuce
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise, if desired
2-3 tablespoons yellow mustard, if desired
Heat a grill to medium-high heat, then add the ham slices. Grill the ham for 1 to 2 minutes on each side to slightly char, then remove from the grill. Add the focaccia to the grill with the insides facing the grates; heat for about 2 minutes to toast, then turn over. Add the cheese to the piece of focaccia that will be the top of the sandwich and heat until the cheese is melted, then remove from heat. Spread the desired amount of mustard and mayonnaise on the bottom piece of the focaccia, then add grilled ham. Set slices of tomato and lettuce on the ham, then top with banana peppers. Add the remaining piece of focaccia. Slice into four equal parts to serve.
Bacon, Basil & Mozzarella on Sourdough
1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon, cooked
3 oz. ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
4 store bought sourdough sandwich rolls, cut in half horizontally
4 tablespoons store-bought horseradish sauce
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
1/2 cup sprouts
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Spread one tablespoon of horseradish sauce on the bottom of each roll, then top with mozzarella slices. Add the tomato slices and season with salt and pepper. Top the tomato slices with basil leaves, then top with bacon. Cover with the top of the roll, then serve.