One of the most well known recipes associated with the Zuni Cafe is the famous Zuni Roast Chicken With Bread Salad. Less well known is the Roast Chicken Salad with Peppers, Pine Nuts, Olives, and Bitter Greens. The latter is a wonderful recipe, incredibly easy to make and, for me, almost addictive. While this is one of those recipes that read very simple, the taste is anything but that. The arugula and the tangy vinaigrette are perfect with the warm chicken, olives and pine nuts. I had a hard time not commandeering the entire salad for myself.
You can roast a chicken just for this dish, or you can use leftover chicken, like I did. Frankly, I wasn't feeling good and didn't want to eat, much less prepare a meal. But, this was so easy to make, and the taste of the salad improved my mood enormously. I changed the recipe slightly, by making thyme croutons. My thyme bushes looked so pretty, I felt they were begging to be included in this recipe. And it was perfect for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is the brain child of Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen, and is being hosted this week by The Chocolate Lady at In Mol Araan. Stop by her site and see what all the herb bloggers are up to this weekend.
Since I wasn't feeling well and some people think that thyme can restore good health, I decided the lovely smell of it might improve my mood. And the smell of it, as I made the croutons, did make me feel better. Last year, I planted common thyme in my garden and it's flourished there. Common thyme is a Mediterranean perennial and used in this area of California for ornamental, as well as culinary purposes. It's very hardy and tolerates drought and heat.
Roast Chicken Salad with peppers, Pine Nuts, olives, Bitter Greens and Thyme Croutons
(Adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook)
About 8 ounces of roast chicken, room temperature or warmer
Around 2 Tablespoons of the gelatinous drippings from the chicken
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small red, yellow or green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced, at room temperature
3 big handfuls of bitter greens such as dandelion, watercress, or arugula--at room temperature
12 pitted oil cured olives, such as Nyons, or 24 pitted brine cured black olives, or Greek olives
About 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tear the chicken into bite sized pieces and remove any fat and sinew--and the skin, if you wish. Place in a small dish and set aside.
Warm the drippings and discard any fat. Moisten the chicken with the drippings. Set in a warm spot.
Set the olives and pine nuts into a small bowl and place in a warm, but turned off oven. Do this after making the croutons, when the oven will still be warm.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Set a salad bowl and serving plates in the warm oven for a minute, to warm through.
Place the peppers and greens in the warm bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette to coat . Add the warm chicken, pine nuts and olives and toss well, coating every surface. Add the croutons and drizzle more of the vinaigrette over them and toss the whole salad again. Taste for seasoning and serve on warm plates
Peasant style bread
about 2 teaspoons of fresh choped thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
Slice around 4 slices of peasant style bread in thick slices. Brush with olive oil and cut into large cubes. Sprinkle with around 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme, and dust with salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes.