Monday, 10 June 2013

Seedy Chicken Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing

Between the fairly cool and moist spring we  have been having so far, and the fact that we treated our lettuce bed with lime before planting, we are actually getting decent lettuce in large quantities this year. I think we are also starting to learn which varieties do well in our sandy, acidic soil.  The spinach, as usual, is bolting, but there is enough to still throw some into salads.

Since we are still doing lots of heavy digging in the garden we want our lunch time salad to have a lot of food value to it, hence the use of chicken, quinoa AND pumpkin and sunflower seeds. This is definitely a main course salad; nothing else need be served unless you want a dinner roll or something like that. If you wanted to tone it down and incorporate it into a meal with other dishes, there is no reason not to omit the chicken and do so.

4 servings
30 minutes advance prep
PLUS 15 minutes assembly time

Advance Cooking:
1 cup quinoa
1 2/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
450 grams skinless boneless chicken breast (OPTIONAL)

Put the quinoa, water and salt in the rice cooker and turn it on. Cook and let cool. Alternately, put it in a covered pot, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.

Put the chicken, if  using, into a pot with about 1 cup of water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes  until cooked. Let cool.

It's a good idea to make the dressing in advance while these two items cook, but it could be done just before you assemble the salad. Allow another 15 minutes if you do it then.

Make the Dressing:
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon very finely minced fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, peeled and very finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
the juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Put the oil, sesame oil, tahini and honey in a jar or small bowl, and mix well until the tahini and honey in particular are well-dissolved. Then add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

The ginger and garlic should be in approximately equal quantities. Use the higher quantities if the dressing is to be used at once, the lower quantities if you are making it in advance as they will get stronger as the dressing sits.

Finish the Salad:
8 cups mixed salad greens; lettuce, spinach, arugula, etc.
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

I used a mixture of several different kinds of lettuce, with about 1/3 of greens being spinach, and thought it was a good combination, but use whatever greens you like and have. It is a good idea to toast the pumpkin and sunflower seeds until slightly browned in a dry skillet before adding them to the salad. Turn them out onto a plate to be spread out and cool once done.

Wash and drain the greens well, and tear or chop them a little on the small side. Toss them with the cold quinoa, the dried cranberries and the seeds.  Dice the cold chicken breasts and divide the pieces of chicken over the salad, either in a large flat serving dish or individual plates with the salad divided amongst them. Drizzle with the salad dressing.

Last year at this time I made Asparagus Ham & Cheese "Danish".


localkitchener said...

This sounds like a great salad! I love salads that can be main courses, makes for a delicious AND easy meal.

Sarah Mat Good said...

This salad sounds like a perfect lunch! The dressings looks delicious.