This is one of my favourite summer salads, and is a variation of one I saw Jamie Oliver make on TV ages ago. I messed it about a bit, until I got it the way I wanted it, and I expect you to do the same. It’s a salad that, once you have a few of the ingredients in the fridge, can be thrown together really quickly.
For this reason I keep a jar of Tikka paste, and some Mango Chutney as fridge staples. I always have natural yoghurt there too; so usually it’s just a matter of getting some salad vegetable ingredients and fresh chicken.
The other thing I love about this dish (and I know this is foolishness on my part) is that I serve it on the enormous old turkey plate that my Mother gave me when I cooked my first Christmas dinner. This is a very large salad, and it actually needs the biggest plate you’ve got. It cheers me to take out a plate that usually sits from one end of the year to the next, awaiting it’s moment of wintery glory, and to have it piled high with summery ingredients, basking in a bright evening.
Told you it was foolish… – here’s the recipe –
- Your largest plate
- a high-sided jug
- Medium-sized glass bowl
- Pretty jug, for the table
- Hand whisk
- Frying or grill pan
- Potato peeler
- Serving tongs
INGREDIENTS: Feeds 4-6 as a main course
- 2 tablespoons of Tikka paste
- 4 skinless chicken breasts, butterflied/opened out.
- 300mls plain natural fat-free yoghurt – or any plain yoghurt – I usually have full fat Greek yoghurt in the fridge
- 2 tablespoons of mango chutney
- teaspoon of turmeric
- caster sugar, to taste – spoonful or so.
- 2 bags of nice leaves or baby spinach
- half a cucumber – in one piece.
- half a green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- a ripe mango, diced (or Nectarines/Peaches)
- 3 tomatoes, de-seeded, and flesh diced
- half bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
- Put the opened-out chicken breasts and the Tikka paste into a medium-sized glass bowl and turn the chicken in it to ensure that everything is well coated. Cover, and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to cook it.
- Put the yoghurt, chutney, turmeric, a level teaspoon of sugar and some salt into a high-sided jug and mix well together, until it turns a beautiful golden colour. Taste it and see if it needs to be a little sweeter. Cover and keep in the fridge.
These two steps can be done several hours in advance, leaving you free to just cook the chicken and put the salad together later on.
When you want to serve –
- Put a grill pan on to a fairly high heat, and when it’s hot add the marinated chicken in a single layer. Allow it to sizzle and char before turning it over (about 6-7 minutes). As the chicken has been cut thinly, it will cook fairly quickly. Turn it over to cook the other side, then check that it’s fully cooked before removing it to a plate. You can cook the chicken half an hour or so before you need it. It should be warm ,not hot.
- Dress the leaves with some olive oil and a little lemon juice ( just add it to the bag that the leaves come in and give it a gentle shake)
- Place the leaves onto your beautiful serving dish
- Sprinkle the chopped mango, spring onions, chopped green chilli and tomatoes evenly over the leaves
- Using a potato peeler, shave the skin off the half cucumber, then shave long lengths of the cucumber over the salad.
- Using a knife and fork, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place evenly over the salad.
- Drizzle about half of the dressing over the whole thing; then decant the rest into a pretty jug, so that your guests can help themselves.
- Place the plate into the middle of the table, let everyone tuck in.
- I tend to offer some warmed flatbread with this.
- Don’t restrict yourself to my list of salad ingredients – I’ve added conference pear, avocado, fine peppers, nectarines, carrots (treated the same way as the cucumber) in my time, and virtually anything that’s hanging about.
- I often add sourdough croutons to this dish – Cut some slightly stale sourdough into cubes, drizzle over some olive oil, toss the cubes well, put onto a baking tray in a single layer, bake at about 180° for 10 minutes or so, until crunchy but not burnt. Allow to cool before using.
- Leave out the raw chilli to make this suitable for youngsters.
- I sometimes think I’d like a slightly milder curry paste, so you should use whatever you like.