Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato

The original recipe for this dish was designed to be a bruschetta, but because the baguette I bought was a bit too small to hold the mixture enough to be easily plated, mine ended up more as a salad with toasts served on the side.  Honestly, I think it turned out better in the end this way.  Also, the original calls for you to marinate and grill/cook boneless skinless chicken breasts as your first few steps.  As I was making other food for Books & Snacks, I was looking for a way to save some time, so I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken (one of the plain roasted ones, not a seasoned one like lemon-pepper).  Ultimately, not only did this save time, but I think it added flavor as I was able to have some dark meat in the mix and when cooked with skin and bone, the meat tastes better anyway.

Chicken Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato

1 rotisserie chicken
1/3 c. Italian salad dressing (You can use whatever brand you like for this, but I went with a classic Italian that was on sale at the store.  I'm not sure I'd do a zesty Italian for the first go-around, but it might be worth a try next time.)
4 c. fresh spinach, torn (I tried to tear these into fairly small pieces, like around the size of a nickel.)
1/3 c. crumbled feta (I may have tossed a little bit extra in to finish out the container I had, so maybe add 1/2 Tablespoon if you like feta.)
8-10 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped (The range is because of the varying size of each tomato and how much you like sun-drieds.)
3/4 oz. pine nuts, finely chopped (I used my small food processor.  It doesn't need to be an exactly even chop; varied piece size is okay.)
1/2 tsp. dried basil (You could use fresh for this, but I used up the fresh I had making something else.  Double the amount if you use fresh and chop it finely.)
1 baguette or similar bread, cut into 1/2" thick slices (You could also get premade toasts from the bakery at the store.  In which case, skip step 3.)
1/4 c. olive oil

1- Break down the rotisserie chicken and cut up the meat into pieces. (I went with a fairly small dice and used both breasts and both legs.  You could also add the thigh and wing meat as well or save it for later.)
2- In a large bowl, mix the chicken, spinach, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil.  Add the salad dressing and turn to coat.  (If the mixture seems too dry, you can add more salad dressing a Tablespoon at a time.  The mixture should have a gloss but should not be swimming in liquid.  Remember that the spinach will wilt some when combined with the salad dressing, so it may be best to wait a few minutes before adding more.)  Set the mixture aside.  If you plan to serve it later in the day, it should go into the refrigerator.
3- Preheat oven to 450.  Brush bread slices with thin coating of olive oil.  (Depending on the size and amount of bread you have, you could use more or less olive oil.)  Toast the bread for about 5 minutes, watching so it doesn't burn.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before plating.
4- Serve the chicken salad in a bowl surrounded by the toasts or however else you fancy doing it.

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