Switching gears again! From cereal and marshmallow-filled cookies to healthy-ish salads. But this girl can’t live on cookies alone, so…
It’s really hard to find lunches you can make ahead that are delicious at the same time. Or at least it is for me. I don’t do a lot of crock-pot cooking, because it always seems to yield enough for several armies and I don’t have that much freezer space. I tend to eat lighter in the post-holiday winter, anyway, so I crave salads, not stew. At the same time, I long for something hearty and comforting; just not weighty and nap-inducing. I know what you’re thinking; I’m very easy to please.
So, on a particularly restless weekend where I had had it with boring lettuce leaves and whatever else I had purchased to throw on top of it, I scoured my cookbooks for something, just anything, that caught my eye. This did. I’ve never once made curried chicken salad, and I don’t know why not. I love the warmth of curry and I love a good chicken salad, and why I haven’t put the two together by now is beyond me.
Needless to say, it’s exactly what I wanted. It’s light (chicken breasts, and look at all those grapes), it’s hearty (pistachios and almonds? yes please), and it’s warm like a big hug (thanks to the plentiful curry flavor). And I thought I’d share it with all of you, because chances are, someone out there is struggling with the same winter lunch conflict that I am.
These appeared in my Food & Wine cookbook alongside Garam Masala Biscuits, and if you want to try those, the recipe is right here. I like a little less bread in my life right now (aren’t we all on some sort of diet/pledge to eat better/vow to eat less carbs right now?), so i make an old standby recipe of mine, oven-baked lavash chips. They’re easy and fun and go with just about anything, from hummus to this chicken salad. I’ve included the recipe for these below. If you prefer to make them using pita bread instead of lavash, be my guest, but you’ll want to add 4-5 minutes to your baking time.
Adapted from Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2006: An Entire Year of Recipes. Which reminds me that one of my new year’s resolutions is to buy the rest of this series, because this one is fabulous, and I can only imagine the rest are as well.
Curried Chicken Salad + Spiced Lavash Chips
for the chicken salad:
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 pounds chicken breast halves, on the bone, with skin
- 1 cup mayonnaise, plus more for spreading
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 3 cups red grapes (about 14 ounces), halved
- 2 celery ribs, preferably from the heart, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
for the chips:
- lavash flatbread or pita bread, cut into triangles
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- dried oregano leaves
cook your chicken:
Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of water. Add the carrot, onion, peppercorns and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and simmer over moderate heat until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. Reserve the broth for another use.
make your lavash/pita chips:
cut a package of lavash flatbread or pita chips into triangles. Lavash comes in rectangular sheets, so I make long, thin chips like you see above, as well as some fatter, more equilateral ones. For pita bread, which is circular, cut like a pizza into eighths. spread out onto a sheet pan lined with aluminium foil, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt, ground pepper, and oregano leaves. For lavash, which is thinner, bake for about 7-8 minutes. For pitas, bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness.
your chicken has cooled. assemble your salad:
Discard all of the chicken skin. Remove the meat from the bones and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces.
In a medium bowl, mix the 1 cup of mayonnaise with the curry powder and lime juice. Stir in the chicken pieces, grapes, celery, cilantro and pistachios and season with salt and pepper. Serve the chicken salad with the spiced pita chips on the side. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to three days.