For when it’s too hot to cook indoors

By: Dan Zahra
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 cups chicken salad

1 cup mayonnaise
2 avocados (seeded and mashed)
1 clove garlic (diced small)
1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
1 ½ teaspoons marjoram (chopped)
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 ½ tablespoons basil (chopped)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of kosher salt plus 1 tablespoon (reserved)
½ cup red bell pepper (diced)
½ cup (4 slices) cooked bacon (chopped)
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs grilled and cooled (diced about 2 cups)
1 ear yellow corn (grilled and removed from cob)
½ cup red onion (diced)
1 head napa cabbage
Chopped chives for garnish

Place the mayonnaise and avocado in a medium mixing bowl and mash the avocado.
Using a hand mixer, blend the mayonnaise and avocado until smooth and creamy.
Add the herbs and garlic, then stir and fold to blend. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate while grilling the chicken and corn.
Once the chicken and corn cool, dice the chicken and remove the corn from the cob.
Add the chicken, corn, red bell pepper and bacon to a mixing bowl and add the avocado mixture until desired consistency is reached and set aside.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
Place one leaf from the napa cabbage at a time into the boiling water for about 1 minute or until the stalk is supple.
Using tongs remove the leaf to a paper towel-lined tray and trim away any unneeded stem area.
Spoon about ¼ cup of the salad mixture into the leaf toward the upper center of the leaf and add diced red onion if desired. Then roll the bottom up over the mixture folding the sides in as you finish the roll to lock them inside the leaf.
With the stem side facing down, plate the roll and garnish with the roasted red pepper sauce and chopped chives.
You may add other sauces as well, such as the avocado herb mixture and Sriracha aioli recipe published on June 1.


Prep Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 2 ½ cups

16 ounces roasted red pepper strips (drained)
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoons Sriracha
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
One teaspoon fish sauce
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and whip on high until well blended.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Saturday morning, it’s already 80 degrees and I have to go out and face the heat of the day doing chores. Mowing what’s left of my lawn from the drought watering schedule, weed-eat, trim the shrubs and trees, etc. I step outside and it hits me. Oh my! Well the lawn sure looks good this length and if I trim the tree and shrubs it’s just going to reduce the shade in my yard, I reason with myself.
So as common sense takes the lead it reminds me I need to get my oil changed. I wait in a nice cool room watching the 35th running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR race on an old, dim and very loud tube style TV. Did I mention it was cool?
As I waited, I started looking at food photos of things to eat when the weather is hot. After all I still needed to come up with a recipe to share with you. There were so many beautiful dishes, but I want to share something different. So as soon as I saw a pasta salad I remembered an idea I had some time ago: avocado chicken salad. Yes that’s it and I will wrap it in a blanched napa cabbage leaf plated in a pool of roasted red pepper sauce. So as soon as my car was done I was on my way to the market to get the ingredients.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that you cook three ingredients – and two of them are cooked outside. Grill the chicken and corn ahead of time and this recipe goes together really fast. The only thing left to cook is a quick blanch on the napa cabbage as you build these little green pillows of flavor.
Serve this with some crunchy chips and your favorite beverage and you have yourself a healthy meal that is also cool and packed with flavor.
When life turns up the heat just grab your ingredients and play with your food.
Reach Dan Zahra at