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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Seafood and chicken salads make hot-weather dining a delight

Thursday, June 10, 1999

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Put the hearty meals on the back burner -- we're having hot weather and it's time for salads.

We're not talking a simple plate of greens swimming in dressing. We're talking super salads -- salads with plump shrimp and scallops or chicken that are sautéed with just the right amount of spices.

There's one descriptive phrase for the first salad, Shellfish Platter with Herb Vinaigrette: eye catching. Imagine a plate of shredded greens, with a border of red and yellow pepper and snow peas, and in the center of this plate you'll find fresh shrimp and scallops and colorful cherry tomatoes and lemon as a final garnish. We wouldn't do this salad justice if we didn't say it's also delicious.

Many intense flavors complement each other in Warm Spiced Chicken Salad with Scallion Dressing -- the spice rub for the chicken includes cumin and coriander and the dressing has the nutty flavor of sesame oil. Sesame oil, by the way, is extracted from the sesame seed and is high in polyunsaturated fats. This salad can be served at a dinner party, brunch or as an everyday meal.


Janis Atkins of Brentwood was nice enough to send these recipes to share with Kitchen Mailbox readers. Janis and her husband, Tom, enjoy experimenting with unusual dishes.

Shellfish Platter With Herb Vinaigrette

Herb Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

Shellfish and Vegetables:

3/4 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1 clove garlic, halved
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on if possible
1/2 pound bay scallops
3 ounces snow peas, stems and strings removed
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sweet yellow pepper, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine vinegar and mustard. Whisk in the oil, then stir in the salt, pepper, shallots and dill. Set aside.

Combine wine, water, bay leaf and garlic in a medium non-aluminum saucepan. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes to blend flavors. Add the shrimp to the liquid and simmer gently for about 2 minutes, until they turn pink. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a plate and toss them with about 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Add the scallops to the cooking liquid and cook for about one minute, until just firm.

Remove the scallops with a slotted spoon to a plate and toss them with another spoonful of the dressing. Cover and refrigerate while finishing the salad.

In a saucepan, blanch the snow peas, red pepper and yellow pepper in lightly salted boiling water for one minute. Run the blanched vegetables under cold water to stop the cooking and blot dry on paper towels.

To assemble the salad you need:

6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 lemon, cut in wedges

Spread the shredded lettuce onto a serving platter. Arrange the snow peas, red and yellow peppers around the edge of the platter. Scatter or arrange the marinated shrimp and scallops in the center. Garnish with the cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges.

Pass the remaining Herb Vinaigrette at the table.

Note: The Herb Vinaigrette can be made up to one day ahead. The salad can be assembled up to 6 hours ahead.

Makes 4 servings

Warm Spiced Chicken Salad With Scallion Dressing


1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

Scallion Dressing:

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions, including green tops

For salad assembly:

1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup each of thinly sliced radishes, green pepper, cucumber and celery
1 tomato, cut into wedges
8 to 10 ounces frozen french fries, cooked according to package directions (Frozen french fries come with directions for either baking or frying -- we baked ours.)
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with the bottom of a saucepan to flatten slightly. Sprinkle the chicken with the spice mixture and rub it in with your fingertips.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook the chicken breasts over medium heat for about 8 minutes on each side, until browned and firm to the touch and juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Set aside the skillet without discarding the drippings.

To make the dressing, add the vinegar, sesame oil, peanut or vegetable oil, and scallions to the drippings in the skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat for 1 minute.

Spread the torn lettuce on a large platter. Scatter the radishes, green pepper, cucumber, celery and tomatoes on top of the lettuce. Slice the chicken into 1/2-inch wide strips and lay atop the lettuce. Finish with french fries and Cheddar cheese.

Pour the warm dressing over the salad and serve.

Note: The lettuce and vegetables can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead.

Cover and refrigerated until ready to serve.


"I would like the recipe for a delicious turkey stuffing that was served at The Three Lions restaurant on Fourth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. This restaurant no longer exists. The stuffing was made with either rye or whole-wheat bread, thin strips of carrot, mushrooms and additional unknown ingredients. I have tried to duplicate it to no avail.

"If anyone out there has this recipe, or a similar one, I would be extremely grateful if you could share it," writes J. Zinski of Carnegie.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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