Monday, September 28, 2009

Provencal chicken salad

This quick dinner salad is perfect for September -- the warm chicken and cool greens combine with a vinegary dressing and marinated vegetables to be comforting in cool weather and refreshing in warm. Don't skimp on the oregano, either, because it does something magical when combined with the roasted red peppers and green olives. The best thing about this salad is it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare (if that), and if you make enough for leftovers, it's an excellent lunch the next day. I love salads like this, because I can stretch them into two meals by serving a large dinner portion the first day and serving a smaller amount the next with a warm soup, such as French onion or tomato bisque.

Provencal Chicken Salad with Roasted Peppers and Artichokes
from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 can (14-oz) artichoke hearts
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1 roasted bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup pitted French green olives, sliced lengthwise into quarters
3 tablespoons minced parsley
4 cups mied baby lettus greens, washed and dried

Dijon-herb Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes and mince them. Rinse the artichoke hearts and cut into quarters,
then pat dry with paper towels.

2. Preheat a stovetop grill pan, outdoor grill or skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tenderloins from the chicken breasts and pound the chicken into an even thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Oil the grill and either grill or pan fry the chicken 4 or 5 minutes on each side until just cooked. When cool enough to handle, slice into 1/2-inch wide strips.

3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pepper, artichoke hearts, lives nad parsley.

4. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients; season with pepper. Before serving, whisk dressing again and combine with the chicken salad.

5. To serve, place baby greens on a platter and top with the chicken salad or serve on individual plates. The vinaigrette from the salad will seep through to flavor the greens below.

Variations: To serve this as a vegetarian meal, omit the chicken and substitute just grilled or roasted vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant. Use fresh tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes if they're in season. Try different herbs, such as chives, basil and dill along with, or instead of, parsley.

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