The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.11.06


Cooling with the cucumbers

A trip to the local air-conditioned grocery store can provide some welcome respite from the sun and humidity of a hot summer day. I know, because I have made a visit to the ice cream and frozen food section on more than one occasion, just to cool off.

I suspect others do the same, as more often than not, I witness innocent loitering by the dairy case. People take their time shopping when the outside heat is unbearable, it seems. Coincidentally, we often find an offer to sample a promotion of cold beer of the week near the coolers. Yes indeed, a mid-afternoon trip to the super-duper-mega-store is just what is needed right now.

Stop by the veggie cases for an even better cooling off experience. If you are patient, a nice spray of fine mist will come on and deliver a refreshing and breezy bath as recovery to you and the vegetables at the same time.

Once you have your crisp veggies and are as cool as a cucumber, dash to your air-conditioned car and go immediately home to make some summer salads. Both of these recipes will refresh and are delightfully cool. I suggest a frosty beer or a crisp chardonnay as accompaniments, too.

Scallop and Spinach Salad

6 ounces fresh spinach leaves, washed and stemmed
4 ounces blue cheese, Gorgonzola, or feta cheese, crumbled
1 lb scallops
2 tsp olive oil
1/2-cup Italian salad dressing or home made vinaigrette
1/2 cup pine nuts or peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. Divide spinach leaves among 4 plates.
2. Sprinkle crumbled cheese over.
3. Rinse scallops and pat dry; cut large sea scallops in half horizontally.
4. Heat olive oil in large frying pan over high heat.
5. When hot, add half the scallops and cook, stirring often, until opaque through the center (cut to test), 1-2 minutes.
6. Lift scallops from pan and set aside.
7. Repeat with remaining scallops, adding more oil if needed.
8. Bring dressing to a simmer over medium heat.
9. Arrange scallops on spinach, drizzle with hot dressing and sprinkle with nuts.

Drunken Chicken Salad

4 boned chicken breasts, cooked
1-cup sherry
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 head red leaf lettuce
1/2-cup cilantro leaves (optional)
3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted golden
4 scallions, with green, chopped

1. Cut cooked chicken breasts in half.
2. Put in large bowl with wine, salt and sugar.
3. Toss, cover and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Next day drain off marinade.
5. Arrange lettuce leaves on serving platter; place chicken pieces in the center.
6. Sprinkle with sesame seed, cilantro leaves, and scallions.