Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Weekly Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Brace yourselves for an onslaught of salad recipes!  There is something about these early days of summer that makes me crave a crisp, refreshing salad (and it has nothing to do with the beginning of bathing suit season).  Frankly, I should be eating more salad and other leafy greens year round, but my own early-summer cravings, in addition to my husband’s request that we eat a bit lighter (hmm, do you think I make too much pasta?), led me to peruse my Maine cookbooks in search of some delicious, exciting salad recipes.  They didn’t disappoint.

If you’re thinking, ‘a Mediterranean Chicken Salad recipe from Maine? Yeah right,’ you do have a point.  I pulled this recipe from my Maine Home Cooking cookbook, under the Modern Maine Cooking section.  In an introductory paragraph, Sandra Oliver acknowledges that many of the recipes in that section are a reflection of outside influences, both international and national.  Maine home cooks, like cooks elsewhere, want to experiment at home with the recipes they’re able to try at restaurants.  The following recipe serves 3 to 4 people.

You’ll need:

  • a whole chicken (cooked), breasts and a thigh
  • 1 big fistful of green beans
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • a dozen black olives, pitted and chopped
  • handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • dried oregano
  • finely minced parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • washed and torn lettuce or baby greens

Because Nick and I certainly don’t need to consume an entire chicken between us (and I’m not a big fan of salad leftovers – in my opinion, the greens just don’t keep well), I poached a couple of chicken breasts in a broth with onion, several peppercorns, and some white wine.  After it was cooked, I shredded it for use in the salad.  I also think a rotisserie chicken would be a delicious and speedy answer for cooks who would rather not undertake cooking the chicken themselves.

The fixings...

The fixings…

Pull the meat from the bones, cut into bite-size pieces, and put them into a bowl.  Snap the beans and blanch them in hot water or cook until tender – your choice (I simmered mine until they were slightly tender, but retained a little bit of crunch).  Add them to the chicken.  Sprinkle capers on to taste, add the olives, slice the tomatoes in half (if you wish), and add them.  In a small jar, shake the olive oil and lemon juice together and dribble over the salad to taste.  Sprinkle on some dry oregano, parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Let rest at room temperature.  Serve the salad on the lettuce or greens.

Pretty and delicious!

Pretty and delicious!

This salad was every bit as good as I imagined it would be when reading the recipe.  Personally, I love the caper and lemon flavors, and with the addition of chicken, it was a light but filling meal that really hit the spot.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


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Weekly Recipe: Libby’s Lemon Chicken

This recipe is one I’ve wanted to try since first flipping through my cookbook, Maine Home Cooking.  It spoke to me for a number of reasons: first, although its name is certainly not connected to my Aunt Libby, I can’t read the title without it calling her to mind (she passed away of breast cancer when I was 14, and was a very special woman); second, the ingredient list includes several favorites of mine (capers, white wine, and lemon); and third, I love any chicken dish that requires me to flour and fry the chicken lightly before baking in a sauce.  These inevitably seem to turn out well!

The recipe can be found on page 90 and serves 5-6.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons capers with juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • several stalks of parsley, finely minced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice each piece of boneless chicken horizontally.  Put the slices between two pieces of waxed paper and pound them gently with a mallet or rolling pin.  Toss together the flour, salt, and pepper and dip each piece in the mixture, shaking off the excess.  Put a little olive oil in a heavy skillet and make it quite hot.  Cook the chicken slices for 3-4 minutes per side, and remove them to a baking dish.

Chicken in the hot skillet

Chicken in the hot skillet

Add the capers and wine to the pan and cook until you can scrape up the little stuck-on bits.  Pour it over the chicken in the baking dish and lay the lemon slices over the chicken.

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Put the chicken in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.  Lay the chicken on a platter, pour the juices over it, distribute the lemon slices, and sprinkle with parsley.

The lemon slices really make this dish visually appealing.

The lemon slices really make this dish visually appealing.

I made this recipe for my in-laws first night in town over Easter weekend.  As sides, I roasted red potatoes and sauteed asparagus.  The chicken was tender and flavorful (although it could have benefitted from slightly more salt and pepper!), and all in all, the meal received rave reviews.  It was also a pretty easy, straightforward recipe that gave me the opportunity to indulge in a glass of wine.

Time to enjoy!

Time to enjoy!


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Weekly Recipe: Smoked Salmon Spread

As you might imagine, fish and seafood play a prominent role in the diet of a Mainer.  The geography of Maine, as well as its rural environment and long history of gaming, make it inevitable that this would be so.  In addition to the ocean, an undeniably important part of Maine’s economy and food supply, Maine has many lakes, rivers, and streams – at least 5,785 lakes and ponds alone.  A part of what made my childlife so full, in my opinion, was my constant exposure to the outdoors and outdoor sports, including fishing, hiking, hunting, and much more.  My new cookbook, Maine Home Cooking, features many fish and seafood recipes (as well as venison – hopefully my husband will get a deer this year so I can share those with you), and when I came across this one for a Smoked Salmon Spread, I was immediately inspired to make it during my weekend in Maine.

My initial thought was of how much my sister loves smoked salmon, and I wanted to make something I knew she would enjoy.  My mother also pointed out how much my grandfather loves salmon – for as long as he was able, was an avid fisherman and went on an annual salmon fishing trip to Lapoile, in Newfoundland – and I was, after all, home for his 90th birthday.  So it was quickly decided that we would make this spread and take it to share with the family on Saturday evening.  We doubled it and it was a hit – the entire bowl was wiped clean.

What you’ll need:

8 oz. cream cheese (or Neufchatel cheese)

8 oz. smoked salmon

1/4 cup mayonnaise (or yogurt)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Lemon juice or Tabasco, to taste (optional)

Chopped dill, to taste (optional)

Chopped olives or capers, to taste (optional)

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Throw all ingredients into a food processor or mixer and whirl until you reach your desired consistency (I like mine a bit lumpy).  Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with crackers.  This would also be delicious as a spread on bagels, toast, or even pasta – my sister took the leftovers and used them in just this way!  I chose to incorporate all of the optional ingredients, because I love those flavors and I felt they would work nicely together.  We used roughly the juice of one lemon, just a splash of Tabasco, a tablespoon of chopped dill, and about a 1/4 cup of capers.  Delicious!

Smoked Salmon Spread, with dill garnish

Smoked Salmon Spread, with dill garnish