Paulette Sexton of Tustin, California, writes: “Although I’ve loved to cook since I was a kid, I didn’t really hone my kitchen skills until my husband and I started entertaining frequently. When we were first married, we had dinner parties several times a week — it got to the point where people would call me around 4:30 in the afternoon and ask, ‘What’s for dinner?’ We’re still having people over and we’re still informal, especially in the summer. Everyone sits around the large island in our kitchen, drinking wine and eating appetizers. Usually there’s grilled chicken or fish or a simple main-course salad for dinner. It’s our favorite menu.”
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons tarragon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 cups diced cooked chicken (from one 3-pound purchased cooked chicken)
- 1/2 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta; about 3 ounces)
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces)
- 1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/3 cup dried currants
- 1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
- Combine oil, vinegar, tarragon, lemon juice, and mustard in small bowl; whisk to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Place chicken in medium bowl. Mix in 1/4 cup dressing.
- Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse under cold water to cool; drain well. Transfer orzo to large bowl. Stir in remaining dressing and toss to coat. Add chicken mixture, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, currants, and capers. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper and serve.