By Dana Zia, The GoLightly Gourmet

“I’ve tried it on, like, twenty Oompa-Loompas and each one ended up as a blueberry!”  –Willy Wonka

It’s that time of the year again! The berries are starting to show up in the markets with all their joyful color. I love all the berries but what is it about blueberries that is so alluring and charming? I just look at a pint of those lovely blue beauties and I smile. But this little berry is nothing to laugh about because it is not only filled with flavor but is a nutritional GIANT!

You name it they got it. Vitamin C? Yup and not only do they have more Vitamin C than most fruit but they also have a compound in them from the blue color called, anthocyanins, that actually enhance the performance of the Vitamin C. Blueberries are also one of the most celebrated antioxidants ever found by nutritional lab rats. Some of their other attributes are that they have been shown to help keep your heart healthy, fight off Alzheimer’s and dementia, keep your colon and digestive tract healthy, help stave off macular degeneration, protect against ovarian cancer and make you smile when you eat them. They are as healthy for you as a good belly laugh!

Choose your blueberries by their vibrant color and tight skin. Shake the container and make sure the berries move freely to ensure there isn’t any mold or mildew hiding in there. It’s best to store them in the fridge until you use them, which should be just as fast as you can. Don’t wash them until you are just about to freeze them or eat them, as washing takes off their powdery bloom that protects them from mold and the outside world.

One of the wonderful things about blueberries is they freeze well so you can save some of this summer nutrition for all through the year. Freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet then vacuum seal them for the best results. You can also store them in zip-lock baggies but they will form ice crystals on them faster. I’ve been known to wash the frozen berries in cold water to melt the ice crystals and use them anyway. They taste just fine!

This recipe is as delicious as it is fun for your eyes. It highlights the blueberry in a delightful, savory way opposed to the sweet pancake or muffin way. It sounds like a lot of steps, but is actually quite easy; don’t let the recipe daunt you. If you make up your blueberry vinegar and vinaigrette the day before, it will taste better and the recipe comes together easy. This dish is best eaten outside in the summer evening light, marveling at life and blueberries.

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Summer Blueberry Salad with Provincial Chicken

Make this the day before.

Blueberry Vinegar

1 cup of fresh blueberries

¾ cup of white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pour the blueberries in a sauce pan and squish them up with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Cover and reduce the heat to simmer gently for 10 minutes or so till the whole mix turns a brilliant purple. Let stand for at least 4 hours to marry the flavors then use it in everything you can. This also makes a merry gift.

Blueberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup of blueberry vinegar

2 teaspoons of honey, warmed

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Couple cranks of fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup of olive oil

Add all the ingredients to a jar, and shake it up till well mixed. (Hopefully you have put the lid on before shaking it!)

 

Provincial Chicken

4–6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup of dry white wine

2 tablespoons of lemon

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

3 teaspoons of herbs de Provence spice

OR 1 tablespoon each of fresh chopped sage, rosemary and thyme

2 – 4 cloves of garlic pressed

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3-4 cranks of fresh cracked pepper

Whiz all the ingredients up in the blender or whip by hand in a bowl till you are happy with it. Marinade the chicken in a plastic zip lock bag or bowl for about half hour before cooking. You can either grill or bake the chicken, depending on your preference. If you bake it, pour all the marinade in the dish with the chicken. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees or till the chicken is opaque all the way through with no pink inside. If grilling, discard the marinade and grill on a medium hot grill till for 25-30 minutes till turning once, till done. Sprinkle a little of the herbs de Provence on the chicken breasts, when cooked, for eye candy.

Now, let’s put it all together!

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Summer Blueberry Salad with Provincial Chicken

6 to 8 cup of your favorite salad greens

1 cup of fresh blueberries

A cup or so of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup of goat or sheep feta, crumbled

1/2 cup of finely diced red onion

4 tablespoons of toasted sliced almonds

4 Provincial chicken breasts, cold or hot

Blueberry vinaigrette

Separate your greens between 4 beautiful individual salad bowls. Feed your creative muse by arranging the blueberries, tomatoes, onion, almonds and feta artfully in each bowl. Slice the chicken breast up and place one on top of each bowl of salad, in a fan shape, or just plop the whole breast on there or you can slice it and fan it out to be fancy. Drizzle the blueberry vinaigrette on top and serve to your drooling family and friends. Eat and be merry!

 

 

 

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