Ottolenghi Saffron Chicken Salad
Is it spring yet? If you, like us, are getting so. over. root. vegetables, try envisioning yourself in warm, sunny place eating this lovely, crisp, sweet-hot salad. There's enough shades of light summer to make you really feel Daylight Savings Time, while it's still substantial enough to stick to winter's ribs. Bonus? We can see applying the orange-vinegar-honey syrup that comprises the dressing to all manner of warm-weather goodies/stoop-sipping cocktails. Bring it on. Ottolenghi Saffron Chicken Salad
- 1 orange
- 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts
- sea salt
- ground black pepper
- 2 fennel bulbs, sliced thin
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 cup torn basil leaves
- 1 spicy chili - Ottolenghi calls for a red chili, I used a serrano
- juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400.
Slice the ends off one orange. Leaving the peel on, slice orange into 12 wedges. Place wedges in a small saucepan with honey, white wine vinegar, saffron, and just enough water to submerge the orange slices. Add more water as needed during cooking. Simmer for 1 hour. In a blender, or food processor, puree cooked orange and its liquid - this syrup will be your sauce.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet (I use my beloved cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil to the hot pan. Sear both sides of the chicken breasts for a couple of minutes. Season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Transfer pan to the hot oven to finish cooking the chicken - about 15 minutes.
Place 1/2 of the orange puree in a large salad bowl. ( Save the other half of the puree for another salad dressing - or add a bit more to this salad if you so desire.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear it into large pieces. Toss the chicken with orange puree. Add to the bowl: 3 more tablespoons olive oil, thinly sliced fennel, cilantro leaves, torn basil leaves, and sliced chili. Toss everything with your hands. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired.