Friday, August 19, 2011

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food...# 11 Patricia Wells and Chicken Salad with Green Beans

Some of my many cookbooks!
I have been collecting cookbooks for more than 20 years...I have upwards of six hundred. I only know this because my husband and I had a bet on how many I have stashed away on my many bookshelves. So, I was quite surprised when this weeks pick of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food was Patricia Wells. I've seen her recipes in Gourmet Magazine. I've heard her name many times but, I still didn't know much about her. She has written 13 cookbooks and yet, I do not own one of them. How can that be? How did I miss such a contempoary talented cookbook author? A cookbook author who has won the James Beard award several times.
She moved to Paris in the 1980's and has lived there, with her husband, ever since. She is a journalist, author, cook and she runs a cooking school "At home with Patricia Wells" in Paris and the Provence.  She was the first woman to serve as restaurant critic for the French publication L'Express. She was a writer and editor for the Washington Post and the New York Times. She also served as restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune. Researching Patricia Wells let me know how much I've been missing so, I will soon own one of Ms. Wells cookbooks. I ordered the Trattoria from Amazon last night. 
The recipe I chose to represent Patricia Wells is a very simple Chicken Salad with Green Beans. I chose this dish because I have an abundance of green beans growing in my garden right now. It also sounded like something my husband and I would both enjoy. It has been very hot here and this was a wonderfully light dinner. We both had a glass of white wine and a very enjoyable evening! 

Fresh from the garden

A light summer meal

Totally delicious! 

Chicken Salad with green beans 

  • Chicken salad with green beans
  • 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed at both ends and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced celery (1/4-inch slices)
  • Tahini-lemon-yogurt dressing (see below)
  • 1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
  • Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

  • Tahini-lemon-yogurt dressing
  • 2 plump, moist garlic cloves, peeled, halved, and green germ removed
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Chicken salad with green beans1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
2. Fill the pasta pot with 3 quarts of water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the salt and the beans and blanch until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. (Cooking time will vary according to the size and tenderness of the beans.) Immediately remove the colander from the water, letting the water drain from the beans. Plunge the beans into the ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible. (The beans will cool in 1 to 2 minutes. If you leave them longer, they will become soggy and begin to lose flavor.) Drain the beans and wrap them in a thick kitchen towel to dry. (Store the beans in the towel in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.)
3. In a large bowl, combine the beans, chicken, and celery. Toss to blend. Add just enough dressing to coat the ingriedents lightly and evenly. Add the cilantro and toss again. Taste for seasoning. At serving time, season with pepper.
Tahini-lemon-yogurt dressingIn the food processor or blender, mince the garlic. Add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt and puree to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately. (Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake to blend again before using).
These are the other blogs that are involved in this project of  Gourmets list of the 50 Women Game-Changers in food. Thank you Mary of One Perfect Bite for organizing this group.  Check out these other talented ladies to see what they came up with for this 

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green 


  1. Oh - that looks so good! I have a couple of her books & just love them.
    I also have a bookshelf that looks like that - but, I think I would be in a lot of trouble if my collection made it up to 600 :-)

  2. This certainly would make a light summer meal.

  3. Kathy, I didn't have any of her books, either. And to make matters worse, I couldn't even find one at the Barnes and Noble near me. This woman is seriously under appreciated! This chicken salad is my favorite kind of dish. If I'm going to eat meat, I want it to be mixed with lots of veggies. The dressing looks great, too.

  4. How healthy and delicious does this look?? I've never heard of beans in chicken salad, so I'm excited to try it.

  5. I am the same way with cookbooks...and I don't own any of hers, either. I have checked them out from the library numerous times, but don't own any. I need to remedy that situation! This does look like the perfect summer meal...with a bottle of wine. =)

  6. What a healthy and delicious summer meal. That dressing is unusual and delicious. I'll have to give this salad a try. I'm so glad you are on this journey with us. You are great company. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  7. Yum! This would be perfect for a sandwich on a crusty bread :)

  8. 600 cookbooks? I'm not sure I could fit that many in my apartment! Your salad looks delightful, and I'm glad you could use those beautiful, fresh green beans!

  9. Hi Kathy! Gosh, I'm so glad that you commented on The Spice Garden, as I'd visited your blog earlier to see a Patricia Wells post and I missed it!

    Back again to see and found your beautiful salad! I'm finding that she does have a way with a salad recipe! My confusion on Patricia Wells is such that she has lived for so long in France and has written for publications that I have just not seen on a regular basis, here in my rural backwater

  10. I have A LOT of cookbooks, but not as many as you, Kathy. :) That is quite a collection. Mine is growing and now my husband has to put up a couple more shelves for me in the family room. I have also heard so much about Patricia Wells and she is often on Martha Stewart's show and so I have enjoyed watching her cook. How great that you were able to use fresh green beans from your garden to make her salad recipe. It looks like the perfect meal for a summer lunch or dinner.

  11. This looks delicious and I just added it to the menu for this week's lunch line up. Thanks for posting. I do have one cookbook by Patricia Wells and I love it, may have to take a look at some of her others.

    Oh, and I just told my husband that he is no longer allowed to complain about my (meagre in comparison to yours) cookbook collection :-)