Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Avocado and Almonds

This weekend, we prepared the perfect, perfect lunch. It started with this fresh, colorful salad and ended with a ginger-poached pear with chocolate ganache (recipe to be posted very soon). This salad was our way of holding on to the lightness of summer dishes a little while longer. The mix of ingredients would indeed make this the perfect picnic salad for a warm August day, but worked wonders for a light lunch on a crisp November day. The ingredients are simple: grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, toasted almonds and avocado but a few simple techniques really bring this salad over the top. Firstly, we marinated the chicken overnight with plenty of garlic, lemon and herbs. This might seem like a lengthy process but it only takes a few minutes to do and ensures that the chicken stays moist and flavorful. When you're ready to make the salad, all you have to do is grill the chicken. Another simple, but essential element is to toast the slivered almonds. When toasted, the almonds release all of their natural oils and they really take on a whole new dimension of flavor. Again, this is a simple step that only take a few minutes, but in a simple salad like this one, these little tricks really make a difference. This is really what Chocolate Shavings is about. It's about those little steps that take a dish from ordinary to over the top.

For all of us busy professionals, this salad can be a bit of a life saver as well. In our house, when we take the time to marinate and grill chicken, we also add a couple extra chicken breasts to have as leftovers. If you have some leftover chicken, almonds and mandarin oranges, you have a second meal ready in minutes the next day. I don't know about you, but Mondays are usually my real busy day of the week. I'm still in leisure weekend mode and tend to have some trouble giving the week a proper jump start. Having an easy meal to put together on Monday is the easiest way I've found to ensure that I can get organized for the rest of the week to come. I always leave more complex recipes for later in the week, when I'm a little less frazzled. Warm up some pita bread in the oven and toss the chicken, oranges and almonds together. Add a good dollop of Greek Yogurt with a good squirt of lemon, and toss everything in the pita bread. Add anything else that might fit nicely from your fridge- like a couple halved cherry tomatoes, some feta cheese or some diced cucumber. I've never been a big fan of real leftovers. The idea of heating up yesterday's meal doesn't usually get me very excited about dinner. However, making yesterday's meal into a new tasty dish - that I like!

Grilled Chicken Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Avocado and Almonds
Serves 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
2 small cans of mandarin oranges
1 avocado
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
4 large Romaine leaves, cut into thin slices

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and oregano until well combined. Add the crushed garlic. Place the chicken breasts into a ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken in the bag. Tightly close the bag and shake to make sure the marinade is well distributed. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.

Set a pan on medium heat and add a good drizzle of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken breast to the pan, discarding any leftover marinade. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Leave untouched for about 4 minutes, turn over and season again. Cook for another 4 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove from the heat and reserve.

In a large pan on medium heat, add the slivered almonds in one layer. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to do this in batches. Stir frequently and cook the almonds until they are just golden brown. Keep a constant eye on the pan as the almonds will quickly go from golden brown to burnt. Remove from the heat and reserve.

In your serving bowl, add the chopped romaine. Dice the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the salad. Cut the avocado into bite-size cubes and add them in. Drain the mandarin oranges and add them in. Add the vinaigrette a few minutes before serving and top with the almonds.


2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl whisk together the Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Once the mixture is homogeneous, add the olive oil and whisk until smooth. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.


Trissa said...

Yes this dish definitely speaks of summer still! I rarely see mandarins in recipes nowadays but they are a great fruit... love it paired with almonds like you've done.

Anonymous said...

This salad actually looks perfect. Yum!

Citron said...

This salad is wonderful, simple and fresh. I actually love oranges and avocados together, and I use them in vegetarian salads all winter. I sometimes add dried cranberries too. Lovely.

A Bowl Of Mush said...

This is such a gorgeous salad recipe. I love any salad with avocado in it! Yum! Will be trying this :)

Looking forward to the poached pears post as well, sounds delicious!

Deborah said...

This is my idea of the perfect salad!

CC11 said...

It looks so fresh and nutritious! I also cook a little extra meat to use the next day for lunch.

Janae said...

I can't wait to make this! Since I'm in Southern California this salad works perfectly with the available produce and weather (70s + 80s). Thanks!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm reluctant to tell you how often we have chicken salad for lunch. This one could very well become a favorite in our house.

Meg Luby said...

i love this recipe! simple and fresh! fall foods are great but, this fresh flavored salad looks spring refined! can't wait to make this, thanks for posting!

-meg @

Cynthia said...

Hey Jan, it's been a while since I've visited. How are you?

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