Say “chicken salad” to almost anyone (ok, any American) and the picture that comes to mind includes diced or processed chicken and lots of mayo. Not an appealing picture at all. So here is my experiment and I’m taking back “chicken salad” so it can once again be a flavorful, delightful meal.
This was a guided experiment. I took a marinade from my Bobby Flay grilling cookbook and paired it with a variation of an Ina Garten warm salad. So … marinade of olive oil, sage, garlic, orange zest, salt, and white balsamic vinegar. Really, this is not exactly the same as the recipe in the book, but it is close enough that I’ll give full credit to the cook book on this one.
The salad required a little more improvising. I got some stunning greens in my veggie basket today (Mizula they said it was but it looked nothing like last week’s Mizula so I’m not exactly sure) that looked like arugula, and had a nice taste like arugula, so I wanted to use them like arugula. I roasted some butternut squash with olive oil and salt (nothing else) the prepped a salad of the greens, crasions, and pecans. The dressing had the purée and strained juice of two apples. Let me stop there. I am not sure what possessed me to think I could juice an apple like I do lemons, limes and oranges, but for the record, it does not work the same. So after getting frustrated with that, I used cranberry pear white balsamic for the remaining acid, added chopped sage, salt, pepper, shallot, olive oil and a dash of mustard. Mix well.
Now may also be a good time to mention that I started with only the apple juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, sage and olive oil and then tasted and added one thing at a time until it finally tasted like I wanted.
So the chicken – out of the marinade and into a large frying pan. Nothing else done to it, just let it cook.
The end result – layer the roasted squash over the salad, top with the chicken breast and generously drizzle the dressing over everything. Bob claimed it was one of my best experiments and one of the best meals I’ve made in a while. I think this is his way of telling me I am working too much, or that I should work from home more often. Either way he is right.