Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feed a crowd with four chicken breasts

Sometimes dinner is more of a come-and-go event than a sit down occasion. Take last Monday night at our house for example. We normally eat early, around 5 p.m., but I had a vet appointment at 5 p.m. and my MIL came to watch the kids. Rich didn't get home for dinner until late. So I needed something that everyone could customize to their tastes and that would hold up over a couple of hours and still taste good. And I needed a lot of it, since a good friend stopped by at the same time with her boys, who wanted some too (veggies always look better at other people's houses). This chopped salad met all of the above requirements and then some. I served it with a pan of hot rolls and had leftovers for lunch the next day. It was a great way to stretch four chicken breasts to feed a crowd.

The idea and Greek dressing recipe are modified from the Spring 2008 special publication by Fine Cooking magazine called Fresh. If you're actually all sitting down to eat at the same time and everyone likes the dressing, you can toss each item in some dressing and arrange in neat, separated piles on top of a bed of lettuce. Beautiful. Of course, leftovers will be soggy so eat up.

Also, the anchovies in the dressing are awesome. They provide a little umami for your tongue without the fishiness. If you're worried the anchovy will be too strong, start with one or two fillets and freeze the rest for later. And try to keep all of the pieces of veggies about the same size--1/2" cubes--with the exception of the chicken.

Help-Yourself Chopped Greek Chicken Salad

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 mashed anchovy fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 block feta cheese (like Athenos) chopped in cubes
  • handful of Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut in strips
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 purple onion
  • small handful parsley
  • 1 large clamshell of mixed herb greens
1.) Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl (I used a measuring cup since I could pour the dressing from it and didn't need anything fancy). Mash the anchovies well and whisk it all together. Let sit to blend flavors while you assemble the salad.
2.) Heat 1 Tb olive oil in a pan and season the chicken breasts, both sides, with salt and pepper. Fry until brown and cooked through. Let cool and slice into strips.
3.) Chop the veggies and cheese in consistent 1/2" pieces. Put each item in its own bowl. Serve.

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