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Late Winter Inspiration: This Salad is a Good Place to Start

February 28, 2019

Suzanne Yearley



During this gray and muddy late-winter, it is hard to feel inspired in the kitchen or elsewhere. Then Sunday I had some of the best food that I have had in Westchester in a very long time, and suddenly I am feeling energized. That is not to say the dish was overly-fancy or uniquely-creative, merely quite tasty and well-executed, making for a delicious lunch. Truth be told, that is my culinary happy-place. I am not looking for cutting edge but merely for something that tastes really good, is reasonably healthy, yet leaves me feeling satisfied.


That is exactly what I got at Auray, a combination café and cheese shop in Larchmont. My Ms. DeLovely salad, a combination of crispy lettuce; simply-prepared chicken with a smattering of walnuts, avocado and tomato; and a shower of nutty parmesan; was the perfect lunch for a rainy Sunday. It would also work well for brunch, a weeknight dinner or even brown-bag fare. Enjoy one at the restaurant if you can resist the heavenly-smelling waffles or try this version at home. Either way, I hope this dish brightens your day, and leaves you feeling a little more motivated. After all, spring is on the way.


Secrets to Success:

  • For the chicken, try to avoid cutting it open to check for doneness. Instead, use an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the breast. It should read 170^F or higher when the chicken is done.

  • As balsamic vinegars vary a lot in sweetness, add only part of the honey. Taste the finished vinaigrette and stir in more as needed.

  • Adding the oil very slowly to the other vinaigrette ingredients and whisking or shaking vigorously after each addition, prevents the vinaigrette from separating.

  • Most vinaigrettes can be held in the refrigerator for up to a week, the exceptions being those with fresh herbs and garlic. Store the vinaigrette for up to one week and stir seasonings in a few hours before serving. Return to room temperature before serving.

  • Toast nuts in a preheated toaster oven at 325^F for about 7-10 minutes until golden. Remove from the tray to cool.

  • Make sure your parmesan cheese is stamped across the rind with "Parmigiano Reggiano." This is a guarantee of authenticity.

  • Use the side of a box grater with the largest openings to grate the cheese.

  • Snip chives with your kitchen scissors directly over the salad. This keeps them from being bruised.



Late Winter Chicken Salad 

Inspired by Auray Gourmet with help from Ina Garten


Ingredients:


For the chicken:

2 large chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on

Good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dried thyme

For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons light or regular mayonnaise(not low-fat)

1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1⁄4cup balsamic vinegar(not super-premium)

3⁄4cup extra virginolive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the salad:

1 large box baby greens

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved through the stem

2 Persian cucumbers, split lengthwise and sliced into half moons

1 cup toasted walnut halves

1-2 ripe Hass avocadoes, sliced

1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, 

Snipped chives for garnish, optional

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 2 racks evenly spaced in the oven.

Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on one sheet pan. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, rub the tops completely with olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and dried thyme. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the chicken. Refrigerate until ready to use. 


Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: In a metal bowl secured on the counter with a damp paper towel or alternatively, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, mix or shake together the honey, mayonnaise, Dijon, and balsamic vinegar. Gradually add the oil, whisking or shaking vigorously, to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Serve the salad: Place the greens, chicken, tomatoes, and cucumbers in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and enough vinaigrette to moisten. Toss well. Add the walnuts, avocado, parmesan, and chives, if using, and additional vinaigrette and toss carefully. Serve immediately.


Serves 4, generously.



Tags:

Mediterranean

make ahead

avocado

good for leftovers

winter

salad

dinner

tomatoes

lunch box

lunch

quick

oven

sheet pan

chicken

gluten-free

Family Meal

brunch

autumn

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