Thursday, March 19, 2009

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apple, and Spiced Pecans

These were Abram's words after eating this salad: "When I walked in I thought, 'Ugh, not a salad!' but I take it back, this was great."  Poor Abram gets forced to eat more dinner salads than he would like, but I'm glad one finally crossed over that we can both enjoy.  Again, props go to The 30-Minute Recipe.

Store-bought spiced pecans taste fine in this salad, but if you have a few extra minutes you can make your own.  Recipe below. 

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and ground black pepper
1T vegetable oil
1/2 c water
1 recipe Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette, below
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (10 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thin
1 cup store-bought spiced pecans
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 c dried cranberries

While the chicken cooks, make the vinaigrette.
1.  Brown Chicken: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add chicken and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. 
2.  Poach Chicken and Prepare Vinaigrette:  Flip chicken over, add water, and cover.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes longer.  Transfer to carving board and cool slightly.  (While chicken cooks, make vinaigrette).
3.  Dress and Assemble Salad: Toss lettuce, cheddar, apple, pecans, onion, and dried cranberries with 3/4 cup of vinaigrette.  Divide salad among individual plates.  Slice chicken on bias and arrange over greens.  Spoon remaining vinaigrette over chicken, or pass separately.  

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette
Raspberry vinegar gives this dressing a distinct fruity flavor; however, red wine vinegar can be substituted.  If you don't have cranberry juice on hand, water can be used instead.  If the dressing seems too thick, thin it out with additional cranberry juice or water.

1/4 cranberry juice
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/4 c raspberry vinegar 
1 shallot, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 t fresh thyme
2 t Dijon mustard
Salt and ground black pepper 
3/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

1. Rehydrate Cranberries: Combine cranberry juice and dried cranberries in microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high power until hot, about 1 minute.  
2. Blend Vinaigrette: Process hot cranberry mixture, vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper in blender until shallot and garlic are finely chopped, about 15 seconds.  With blender running, add oil and continue to process until smooth and emulsified, about 15 seconds.  

Quick Spiced Pecans
These nuts can be stored in a zip-lock bag at room temperature for up to 1 week.  If adding to a salad, be sure to shake off any extra sugar first. 

2 T unsalted butter
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground allspice
2 c pecan halves
1 T sugar

Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and all-spice, then stir in pecans.  Toast nuts, stirring often, until color of nuts deepens slightly, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to bowl, toss with sugar, then spread out on plate to cool.   


Anonymous said...

OK, that looks really good, but I have to say Brian and I are still so happy from our amazing dinner/the chicken sandwiches you coached me through today!! It was like you knew so well how all perfect all of the flavors would compliment each other! Impressive Kristin! I am so glad I imposed, asked, and took your honeycupp mustard because I am going to be smiling forever after such a great dinner! Thanks again.

Lauren said...

I gave you an award! Check it out here!