Chicken Salad with Thousand Island Dressing

I’m not a big salad eater. And I can’t even say why. I mean, they usually look colorful and tasty. Your imagination can run wild when creating them as you can add almost every imaginable ingredient to a salad. You can play around with dressings to get completely different tastes and textures.

And yet, I rarely ever convince myself to make a salad at home. I sometimes order one at the restaurant, but most of the time, it’s only because I feel bad about not eating my healthy share of veggies. And when the salad finally arrives at my table, I feel like there’s something missing and keep jealously eying the steak or the pasta on C’s plate.

But yesterday I made this:

I had a sudden craving for something green, crunchy and healthy, probably because I had mainly been living on wintery comfort foods for the past couple of weeks. So I scrolled through a book by danish cook Claus Meyer that I had bought a few weeks ago. Called “Salatwerkstatt” (I bought the german version), it’s full to bursting with creative and refreshing salad recipes for every season. I was hooked on page 20 where I found the most amazing recipe for the classic Thousand Island Dressing, with fresh tomatoes, grilled peppers, fresh lime and chili. Imagine this dressing on a nice bowl of mixed greens, a few cherry tomatoes and peppers and a few slices of grilled chicken and you can almost feel the summer approaching (with a lot of imagination and without looking out the window that is…). As a topping, I used oriental chives (as seen on the picture) and added a handful of mixed sprouts later on (I’d forgotten about them for the picture).

I really, really enjoyed this, especially with the cream dressing that gave the salad a wholly different texture than the usual vinaigrette. It also got C’s full approval as he had huge bowl (nothing compared to the one in the picture) of it.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

For the Thousand Island Dressing (source: Claus Meyer, Salatwerkstatt):

75g tomatoes, peeled (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
fresh chili (according to your taste)
juice and zest of one lime
50g peppers in oil, chopped
200g good quality mayonnaise (preferably homemade, but considering this was a weeknight dinner, I used store bought mayo)
2 tablespoons gherkins, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire-Sauce
a pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

Mixed salad greens (I used baby leaves, for example lollo rosso, cress, arugula, corn salad)
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 long red sweet pepper, cut into slices
oriental chives
mixed sprouts
2 chicken breasts
Pimenton*

Directions:

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice and zest and chili and cook until reduced by half. Add the peppers in oil and cook for 5 more minutes. Leave the sauce to cool completely.

In the meantime, season the chicken breasts with freshly ground pepper and pimenton and rub the spices in. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a grilling pan on a high heat and grill the breasts on both sides until they’re tender inside and crisp on the outsides. Set aside and keep warm.

Toss the greens, tomatoes and pepper slices into a bowl and mix. As soon as the tomato sauce has cooled down, add the gherkins and mayonnaise and mix carefully. Season with Worcestershire-sauce, salt, pepper and sugar.

Arrange a handful of greens, tomatoes and peppers in a bowl or on a plate. Top with a generous tablespoon full of dressing and a handful of sprouts.
Slice the chicken breast and add a few slices to each plate/bowl. Top with some oriental chive to decorate.

Enjoy!

* I first discovered Pimenton on Clothilde’s Chocolate and Zucchini. Then I went to Barcelona and bought some and tried it at home. After that, I immediately called a friend who was going to Barcelona a few weeks later and asked her to bring a few more tins to increase my stock. It is THAT good! Pimenton is a smoky flavored paprika powder, produced in Extremadura in Spain and since I’ve tried it, I put in on (almost) everything. It tastes wonderful on grilled meat, in pasta sauces, in everything Mexican…You can read more about it in Clothilde’s  post and I will most definitely get back to it in another post.

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