(Disclaimer: Since this was an impromptu adventure, the pictures are taken with my mobile camera and not my regular camera,so please excuse me for the quality of the pictures)
So its fall and when L'automne beckons, you're engulfed with the warmth of food and festivities.
For me, I like to celebrate everyday. Each day is a joy and each day has so much to give us! Its incredible really. And yesterday life gave me this....
I was initially planning to make just a simple salad for lunch but then you know me.... I have to go and make everything a teensy bit more special; sprinkle my magic dust on it.
So I ended up making this gorgeously delectable chicken Salad. the flavours of which come together so beautifully. The layers, each has their own dimension to add and the punch that it packs, I'm telling you, it epitomizes L'automne.
You know for me cooking is a joy, a pleasure, a thing I love so much... and making this salad gave me all of that and so much more. From the crisp freshness of the lettuce leaves to the sweet mellowness of the slow roasted tomatoes, the crunchy bite of the herbed parmesan croutons and the earthy chunky star-of-the-dish- Chicken the flavours really came together beautifully. without further ado, lets get on to the recipe!
Time taken: 30 mins (incl prep)
1 lettuce head
Pinch of love
For the chicken
2 chicken breasts
1 1/2 tbsp of mustard
1 1/2 tsp fried garlic powder (use minced 2 minced garlic cloves instead)
zest of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lemon
For Herbed Paremsan Croutons
4 slices of crusty bread, cubed into 1cm pieces
2 tbsp butter
drizzle of olive oil
Italian herbs mix (oregano, basil, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, salt)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Parmesan cheese (I used the stuff from kraft, use whats on hand man!)
Slow roasted tomatoes
You can find my recipe of slow roasted tomatoes here. If you don't want to make yours at home then feel free to use the jarred sun dried tomatoes.
Start by slow roasting the tomatoes. That takes up most time. follow the recipe here.
Marinate the chicken. Here's how:
Take the mustard sauce in a bowl
add the garlic to it
zest the lemon and lime. the lemon zest just uplifts the earthy flavours of the mustard and resonates it at the same time. Careful while zesting though so you don't zest the pith because thats bitter
Salt to taste. Don't go overboard though.
Freshly cracked black pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Give it all a mix. Then suddenly have a brainwave and realise that smoked paprika would add an extra sweet smokey dimension to it all. So add some of that too....
And lastly create the balance of flavours, the juice of half a lemon. Give it a good mix. Your marinade is done.
Spoon the marinade over your washed and dried chicken breasts.
Smear it over....give it a good rub. I usually pierce my chicken breasts with a fork before I spoon the marinade. That way the flavour seeps right in.
Cover n place in the fridge. I sometimes let the chicken marinade overnight too. Makes it so tender and flavourful. But when pressed for time, you can cook it after resting it for 10 mins or so.
For the herbed croutons, have your oven pre heating at 150C or 300F
Cube your bread slices into an even size so they cook uniformly.
Take a large skillet on a low flame. Add the butter to it
Drizzle olive oil so the butter doesn't brown too quickly.
Add the herbs and the cayenne pepper to it. My herb mix had a little bit of salt in it. Keep that factor in mind when you are adding your parmesan cheese. you don't want your croutons to be too salty.
Let the butter melt and when it starts foaming slightly...
Place the cubed bread over it. Spread it in a single layer so each crouton has that coating of the herbed butter.
Give it a toss after a couple of minutes. Take it off the gas.
Dust/ grate some parmesan cheese over it.
Place the tray in the oven. Let the croutons toast for 5 mins. Take out the tray, give them a good toss. see how slightly golden they are.
Place tray back in the oven and toast them for another 5-7 minutes. By this time they should be almost evenly golden on all sides and they will have this beautiful crunchiness to them. I might or might not have popped a few of these yummy babies in my mouth when they came out fresh out of the oven!
The chicken is ready to be cooked now. Take the same skillet in which we coated the croutons, drizzle some olive oil.
Let the pan heat properly on medium heat for a couple minutes before you add the chicken breasts.
Place the chicken breasts in the skillet. As soon as you place them, you should hear a sizzle. Thats a sign that the pan was appropriately hot. Let the chicken cook for 3 minutes each side. My chicken breasts were a little smaller so it took lesser time.
Turn off the gas and let the breasts rest in the skillet for 4-5 minutes before you give them a rough chop. I chopped them up and again coated all the pieces with the oil and juices accumulated in the pan. It just made them so much more flavourful.
To assemble the salad
lay down a bed of your fresh crisp juicy lettuce leaves
add in the tomatoes
the herbed parmesan croutons
the deliciously aromatic chicken
a few sliced olives
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of your love! Indulge in this gorgeous healthy beauty!