No Fuss Fancy - 405 Magazine

No Fuss Fancy

Inspiration comes from the garden for Caryn Ross, whose herb-laced recipes for chicken and shrimp salad result in fresh, fragrant perfection.

The landscape is filled with lush green and gorgeous bounties of flowers. Why not bring those inspirations into your meal? I love using seasonal cues to inspire my menus. Fresh herbs and even flowers can easily be added to any dish with a little tweak here and there. I chose culinary lavender, which adds brightness to my normal chicken salad.

Typically lavender is a favorite for perfumes and bath scents, but using this fragrant herb to subtly season our food makes for a memorable addition. I fell in love with this herb while working in Savannah. Every day I nibbled on lavender shortbreads and reeled at the delicate flavor this little herb added. I could not get enough! So, one day when I got home, I thought, “Why not add a little lavender to my chicken salad?” I did, and it worked!

Many times our inspirations can be copied into our favorite recipes. I encourage you to experiment. Get in the kitchen and use the bounty of fresh herbs available this spring and summer! I guarantee your recipes will be transformed.

Ladies’ Chicken Salad with Lavender Cream

6 chicken breasts, roasted and cubed
Olive oil
1 t fresh thyme 
1 t fresh rosemary
Sea salt and pepper
3/4 c chopped celery
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 c red grapes, sliced in half
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 t culinary lavender
2 T agave nectar
1/2 c pistachios, roughly chopped
Garnish with culinary flowers (found in produce section of grocery)

To prepare the chicken, preheat oven to 375°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, check for doneness, then remove and cool thoroughly.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lavender, agave nectar, salt and pepper. Stir until well mixed. Place the cooled cubed chicken, celery, green onions and red grapes in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve.

Creamy Shrimp Salad

4 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red onion, diced
1 1/2 c diced celery
1 or 2 cucumbers seeded and diced
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
2 T Old Bay seasoning
2 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T minced fresh dill

In a large stockpot, add 3 to 4 quarts of water, add the lemon and the Old Bay seasoning to the water. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until they just turn pink. Drain at once and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, fresh dill and lemon juice. Fold in the red onion, celery and cucumbers and then toss in the shrimp, mixing well. Chill thoroughly before serving.