Chicken Salads

Sep 252016
 

Roast Chicken, Beetroot and Fig Salad

 

 

This is a wonderful salad to make when you want to turn some leftover roast chicken into a delicious and healthy meal. I love roasting my chicken with lemons, garlic, bell peppers, fresh thyme, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, so these flavours come through in my salad. Use your favourite roast chicken recipe or buy some good quality ready-roasted chicken from your supermarket or deli.

 

Beetroots can be conveniently roasted in the oven at the same time as your chicken. Simply trim the stems (without cutting into the beetroots), wrap the beetroots in some aluminium foil, and roast in an oven-proof dish at 200°C/400°F for approximately 30-60 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot). The beetroots are ready when they can be easily pierced with a skewer. Allow the beetroots to cool to room temperature and then pinch off their skins. They are now ready to eat. Beetroots can also be bought ready-cooked and vacuum-packed in a bag. If you decide to buy ready-cooked beetroots, make sure they are not the pickled type. (NB: If your beetroots have fresh-looking stems and leaves, you can chop and sauté them for another dish).

 

Figs bring an important taste component to this salad but are not always in season. Figs have two seasons – a short season in early summer and then a longer season from late summer until autumn. If you can’t get fresh figs, you can use dried figs or dried apricots.

 

 

ROAST CHICKEN, BEETROOT and FIG SALAD

(Makes 2 main course salads)

 

Ingredients:

1-2 cups roasted chicken, roughly chopped

3-4 heads of Baby Gem lettuce

2 medium-sized beetroots

4 small figs

4 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

4-5 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt (to taste)

 

Directions:

  1. This recipe assumes that you have already cooked your roast chicken and beetroots. You can use any recipe for roast chicken which you like or buy some good quality ready-roasted chicken from your supermarket or deli. Beetroots can be roasted at the same time as the chicken. Simply trim the stems (without cutting into the beetroots), wrap the beetroots in some aluminium foil, and roast in an oven-proof dish at 200°C/400°F for approximately 30-60 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot). The beetroots are ready when they can be easily pierced with a skewer. Allow the beetroots to cool to room temperature and then pinch off their skins. They are now ready to eat. Beetroots can also be bought ready-cooked and vacuum-packed in a bag. If you decide to buy ready-cooked beetroots, make sure they are not the pickled type. (NB: If your beetroots have fresh-looking stems and leaves, you can chop and sauté them for another dish).
  2. Prepare your balsamic vinaigrette by combining the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt in a small jar. Taste and adjust as necessary. Set aside.
  3. Remove the outer leaves of the Baby Gem lettuce heads. Wash and dry the lettuce and then chop into bite-size pieces. Divide between two main course salad bowls or plates.
  4. Cut the beetroot into wedges and scatter on top of the lettuce.
  5. Wash and quarter the figs and scatter them around the salad
  6. Roughly chop the chicken into large bite-size pieces (it is upto you if you want to include the skin or not). Loosely place in the centre of the salad.
  7. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds on top.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for upto 12 hours.
  9. Pour the dressing on the two salads just prior to serving.

 

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Sep 062016
 

Chicken and Cress Spread

 

 

After a long and relaxing summer holiday, school has started again. While it’s nice to get back into the routine, one thing which can get a bit tiring is the daily task of figuring out what to put in my child’s lunchbox. I avoid processed lunch meats because of the preservatives and artificial ingredients in them, which means that I often rely on turning dinner leftovers into quick sandwich fillers. But then there are days when dinner just doesn’t translate into a sandwich filler.

 

Because of this, I often prepare my own sandwich spreads which last well in the refrigerator for three days. A simple homemade sandwich filler which I sometimes make is ‘Chicken and Cress Spread’. The chicken is gently poached in salted water with some aromatic spices and garlic cloves. Adding fresh cress (also called garden cress) brings a distinctive peppery taste to the sandwich spread. Don’t confuse it with watercress which has a larger leaf. Cress is usually sold in small pots or tubs and only the stem and leaf should be eaten raw, not the seeds. Cress will grow back again after cutting so simply use scissors to snip off as much cress as you intend to use, leaving the roots intact. New shoots should start growing for another harvest of cress (this can be repeated several times).

 

 

CHICKEN AND CRESS SALAD (SANDWICH SPREAD)

 

Ingredients:

3 skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in half

3 whole garlic cloves (peeled)

3 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs of thyme (optional)

Sea salt (to taste)

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

Cress/Garden Cress (to taste)

 

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to the boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add 2 tsp of sea salt, 3 whole garlic cloves (peeled), 3 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, and 3 sprigs of thyme.
  3. Trim your chicken breast and cut it in half. Place it in the simmering water. Adjust the heat if necessary so that the water remains simmering.
  4. Simmer for around 8-10 minutes. You want to cook the chicken until it is white all the way through. Be careful not to overcook it or it may become tough.
  5. Once cooked, remove the chicken breasts and the garlic cloves from the water and put on a plate. Discard the cooking water and spices.
  6. Allow the chicken to cool so that it is not steaming.
  7. In a food processor, add the chicken, garlic cloves and 3 Tbsp mayonnaise. The garlic becomes very mellow and subtle after simmering in water, but if your child does not like garlic you can still save the garlic cloves and mash them into your own sandwiches.
  8. Pulse gently until you get the desired consistency (less pulsing for a chunky spread; more pulsing for a smoother spread).
  9. Remove from the food processor.
  10. Taste the chicken. If it needs more mayonnaise or salt, add it now and fold it through.
  11. Snip the desired amount of cress from its pot. Rinse and pat it dry before folding it into the chicken spread. If some people do not like cress, you can always add it to individual sandwiches rather than directly into the sandwich spread.
  12. Refrigerate and eat within 3 days.

 

 

 

 

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Jun 042013
 

Cobb Salad

 

 

If you want a hearty, filling and satisfying salad, look no further than the Cobb Salad.

 

Cobb Salad is a classic American main course salad. The origin of the Cobb Salad dates back to 1937 when Robert Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, realised very late at night that he has been too busy to eat anything all day. He rummaged through the restaurants refrigerators (charmingly called ice-boxes back then) to collect some ingredients and then swiped some bacon from one of his chefs. He chopped everything up, and the result was the Cobb Salad. We may not have known about the salad if Robert Cobb had not also served it to his friend Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood). Grauman loved the salad so much that the Brown Derby decided to add it to their menu, and the rest is history!

 

 

 

COBB SALAD

(makes 3-4 main course salads)

 

Dressing Ingredients: (makes 1/2 cup)

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced or very finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

4-6 cups chopped salad greens (traditionally a combination of Romaine (Cos), Iceberg Lettuce, Endives and watercress. However, it also works well with only Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce if that is all you can find)

8-10 oz / 250g tomatoes, deseeded and chopped into bite-size pieces

2 ripe avocados (I prefer Hass avocados)

4 oz / 100g bleu cheese (traditionally, Roquefort was used but any crumbly blue cheese will work fine)

2 eggs, hardboiled (you can boil them on a rolling boil for 10-12 minutes, or buy them from them pre-cooked from the deli section of your supermarket)

6 pieces of bacon (turkey or pork), roughly chopped and crispy

2 raw skinless chicken breasts (alternatively, you can use pre-cooked chicken from leftovers or from a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake well and set aside (refrigerate if not serving within an hour).
  2. Eggs: Hard boil 2 eggs for 10-12 minutes on a rolling boil. You can cut out the cooking by buying pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs from the deli section of your supermarket. Allow the boiled eggs to cool a little (you can run cold water on them), and then peel. Chop the hard-boiled eggs with a knife or by using an egg-slicer. If you are using an egg-slicer, the best way to chop them up is by first putting an egg on the slicer and slicing through it horizontally (or vertically). Then, pick up the egg from both ends so that it stays in one piece, and place it in the egg-slicer vertically (or horizontally). Place the chopped hard-boiled egg in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. Chicken: For the chicken, bring a small pot of water to the boil. As soon as the water has started boiling, put the raw chicken breasts (plus 1 tsp of salt and 1 bay leaf, optional) into the water. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is completely white throughout. Allow to cool slightly, and then chop into bite-size pieces.
  4. Bacon: Take 6 pieces of bacon and chop them up. In a frying pan, heat a little bit of oil (just enough to prevent sticking) on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the chopped bacon and fry until crispy. You can also grill the bacon in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400F/200C if you prefer not to fry.
  5. Lettuce: Wash, dry and chop 4-6 cups of salad greens. You can use one type of lettuce or a mixture. Traditionally a mix of Romaine (Cos), Iceberg, endives and watercress is used. Lay the chopped greens on a large serving platter.
  6. Tomatoes: Cut your tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with a small spoon. Discard the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  7. Avocados: Cut your avocados in half, remove the stones and skin. Cut into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  8. Bleu cheese: Crumble your bleu cheese into a bowl using clean hands or a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  9. When all the components of your salad are ready (tomatoes, avocados, bleu cheese, eggs, chicken and bacon), place them in rows on top of your lettuce leaves. Refrigerate for upto 24 hours until ready to serve. Serve with dressing on the side.

 

 

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May 032013
 

Chicken Pasta Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

 

 

I love the zestiness of a good Ranch Dressing! The Ranch Dressing I made here is very light because it is based on buttermilk (or laban, for those in the Middle East) rather than cream or mayonnaise. It is delicious on a green salad, but I love using it in my pasta salads because it is creamy and zingy without being heavy at all.

 

I think the combination of celery, green peppers, tomatoes and corn works really nicely with the pasta, chicken and ranch dressing, but you can build your pasta salad with whichever veggies you have at home.

 

 

 

CHICKEN PASTA SALAD WITH HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING

(Serves 4)

 

 

Ranch Salad Dressing Ingredients:

200ml buttermilk/laban

1 plump garlic clove, crushed/grated/finely diced (you can make it 2 cloves if you really love garlic)

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

2 scallions/spring onions, finely sliced OR 2 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, roughly chopped

2 generous pinches of salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I turn the pepper-mill 5-7 times)

1/8 tsp ground paprika

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp sugar

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

350g / 12oz dried pasta (I like using fusilli), boiled until al dente and cooled

2-3 chicken breasts (QUICK TIP: Save time by using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket OR try poaching your own chicken breasts using this quick and easy recipe: How to Poach Chicken for Salads.)

2 celery sticks, sliced

1 large or 2 medium green peppers, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

200g frozen corn, defrosted

 

 

Directions:

  1. Corn: At least 1-2 hours before you plan to start preparing your salad, put 200g of frozen corn in a colander (with a bowl underneath it to catch any melting ice) and defrost it either at room temperature if you are in a hurry or in the refrigerator if you have a bit more time. If you are defrosting at room temperature, be very vigilant and place the corn in the refrigerator as soon as it has defrosted.
  2. Pasta: Boil 300g of pasta according to the instructions on the packaging. Make sure that you cook it only up to al dente (ie. still with some bite to it). (TIP: Check your pasta 1-2 minutes before the instructed time is up to avoid overcooking.) Drain your pasta when it is done, drizzle with some olive oil, and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Chicken: If you do not have left-over chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, you can easily cook some fresh chicken for your salad by following my recipe for How to Poach Chicken for a Salad. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 bay leaf and 6 black peppercorns. Drop your raw skinless chicken breasts into the water (make sure they are fully covered by the water). Leave your chicken to poach in the  seasoned simmering water for 10-12 minutes. When the chicken is done (it will be white all the way through and tender), remove it from the pot and put it onto a plate. Allow it to cool and then shred it or cut it with a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Ranch Salad Dressing: While the pasta and chicken are cooking, you can prepare the dressing. Combine all the Ranch Salad Dressing Ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Place in the refrigerator if not using immediately to avoid the buttermilk/laban becoming too warm.
  5. Salad Vegetables: Chop the celery, green peppers and tomatoes. Combine them in your salad serving bowl along with the defrosted corn.
  6. As soon as the pasta and chicken are cool, add them to the salad bowl and top with the Ranch Salad Dressing. Toss well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Make sure that you re-toss the salad just before serving because the dressing falls to the bottom of the bowl.
  8. This pasta salad will keep nicely for upto 2 days.

 

 

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May 032013
 

Strawberry and Fennel Salad

 


Strawberry and Fennel Salad is a refreshing summer salad, full of unexpected flavors and textures which really work well together

 

Juicy strawberries, crunchy fennel, and smooth creamy mozzarella are dressed in a lemony dressing.  Beautiful as part of a picnic lunch!

 

 

 

 

STRAWBERRY AND FENNEL SALAD

(Serves 4 as a starter or side dish)

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pinch of sea salt (to taste)

Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

2 Fennel bulbs

1 lb / 450g Strawberries, sliced

4 Tbsp Parsley, roughly chopped

4-5oz / 125g Mozzarella ball, torn by hand into bite size pieces

 

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the fennel bulbs by cutting the base off the bottom and the stalks off the top (the stalks can be saved and used to flavor a stock). Remove the outer layer of leaves of they are tough. Slice the fennel bulbs thinly (widthwise, not lengthwise). Put the sliced fennel into your salad bowl.
  2. Prepare the strawberries by removing the leaves and slicing the strawberries. Put them in the salad bowl with the fennel.
  3. Prepare the parsley by chopping it coarsely. Add it to the salad bowl.
  4. Prepare the Mozzarella by tearing the ball into bite size pieces by hand. Add to the salad bowl.
  5. Dressing: [If you are serving the salad immediately, you can add the dressing ingredients directly to the salad bowl. If you plan to refrigerate the salad and serve it later, make the salad dressing in a screw-top jar and dress the salad just prior to serving.] With the lemon, it is important that you grate the rind before juicing it. Grate the lemon rind on the fine side of your grater (make sure you do not grate the white pith lying under the rind as it is bitter). Once you have grated the lemon, cut it in half and juice both halves.
  6. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, Extra Virgin olive oil and salt together and toss everything.
  7. Grind fresh pepper over on top of the salad just prior to serving.

 

Submitted by: Chetana Hougaard

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May 032013
 

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Salad

 

 


Alfredo is a creamy sauce made with plenty of garlic and parmesan.

 

A traditional Alfredo recipe will use heavy cream, but this delicious Chicken Alfredo Pasta Salad uses buttermilk instead. The addition of chicken and green bell peppers makes this a well-balanced and tasty lunch. For those of you who like it spicy, try replacing the green bell peppers with deseeded green chillies!

 

 

 

CHICKEN ALFREDO PASTA SALAD

(Serves 4)

 

 

Dressing Ingredients: (makes 1 & 1/2 cups)

1 cup buttermilk / laban

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated/diced

3-4 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, or more to taste

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 – 1 tsp salt

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

350g / 12oz pasta, cooked according to package instructions and cooled

2-3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or diced (QUICK TIP: Save time by using left-overs or a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket OR try poaching your own chicken breasts using this quick and easy recipe: How to Poach Chicken for Salads)

1 large or 2 medium green bell peppers, deseeded and finely diced (alternatively, you can use 2-3 deseeded green chillies if you prefer it spicy)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Dressing: Put 2 Tbsp of mayonnaise in a jar or bowl. Slowly add 1 cup of buttermilk (a few tablespoons at a time to begin with) and whisk so that the mayonnaise and buttermilk combine smoothly. If you combine all the buttermilk directly to the mayonnaise, there is a chance that the mayonnaise will become lumpy. Using a the fine side of a cheese-grater, grate 2 plump garlic cloves and 3-4 Tbsp of parmesan cheese. Add the garlic and parmesan to the buttermilk-mayonnaise dressing. Add 1 tsp dried oregano and 1/2-1 tsp of salt. Combine well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  2. Pasta: Bring a pot of water to the boil, and boil 350g / 12oz of pasta according to the package instructions. When cooked, drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Chicken: If you do not have left-over chicken or a pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket, you can easily cook some fresh chicken breasts for your salad by following my recipe for How to Poach Chicken for a Salad. Bring a pot of water (6-8 cups) to the boil, and add 1 tsp salt, 1 bay leaf and 6 black peppercorns. Drop your raw skinless chicken breasts into the water (make sure they are fully covered y the water). Leave your chicken to poach in the seasoned simmering water for 10-12 minutes. When the chicken is done (it will be white all the way through and tender), remove it from a pot and put it on a plate. Allow it to cool and then shred it or cut it with a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Green peppers: Wash, deseed and dice 1 large or 2 medium green bell peppers. Alternatively, you can use 2-3 deseeded green chillies if you prefer it spicy
  5. In a large bowl, combine your cooled pasta, cooled chicken and diced green bell peppers (or green chillies). Pour the dressing on top and carefully fold everything together.
  6. Refrigerate until serving.

 

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May 022013
 

Coronation (Curried) Chicken Salad

 


Coronation chicken was first created by the Cordon Bleu chef Rosemary Hume to serve at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.

 

It is a creamy curried cold chicken salad studded with sultanas and flaked almonds, which can be served on a bed of lettuce leaves or in a sandwich. Don’t let the screaming yellow color put you off – it is actually very delicious, which explains why it has become a British classic.

 

 

 

CORONATION (CURRIED) CHICKEN SALAD

(Serves 4-6)

 

Dressing Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)

4 Tbsp creme fraiche / sour cream

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 Tbsp mango chutney

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 – 1 tsp salt, to taste

 

Salad Ingredients:

3-4 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes (QUICK TIP: Save time by using left-overs or a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket OR try poaching your own chicken breasts using this quick and easy recipe: How to Poach Chicken for Salads)

3 Tbsp toasted almond flakes (plus a little extra for garnish)

3 Tbsp sultanas

2-3 Tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, washed and chopped

 

 

Directions:

  1. Chicken: If you do not have left-over chicken or a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, you can easily cook some fresh chicken breasts for your salad by following my recipe for How to Poach Chicken for Salads. Bring a pot of water (6-8 cups) to the boil, and add 1 tsp salt, 1 bay leaf and 6 black peppercorns. Drop your raw skinless chicken breasts into the water (make sure they are fully covered by the water). Leave your chicken to poach in the seasoned simmering water for 10-12 minutes. When the chicken is done (it will be white all the way through and tender), remove it from the pot and put it on a plate. Allow it to cool and then shred it or cut it with a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Dressing: Prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mixing together well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
  3. Salad: Put the cooked chopped chicken in a mixing bowl. Spoon the dressing on top of the chicken and fold together (you may not need to use all of the dressing). Add the sultanas and toasted almond flakes and fold until just evenly dispersed through the salad. Garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves and a sprinkling of almond flakes. Serve on a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich.

 

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