Remember a couple of weeks ago when I promised to work on seeking out/finding/researching a few more of my signature dishes? Well, after I posted this one (oh yes, and this one) a few coworkers reminded about this bright little salad I shared awhile back that’s just screaming for you to bring it to your next potluck. It can be made hours before serving, after all.
Like the goat cheese toasts, this Italian chicken salad was a find of mine circa 2005, courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis, when I was living in Los Angeles and just starting to fall under the cooking spell. Lord knows if I had discovered the food blog world at that time I might not have finished my graduate thesis on time! Giada came to visit the Sur La Table around the corner from my old apartment one afternoon but alas I missed her because of class or some such nonsense. Those days I lacked the most essential of kitchen tools, particularly a sharp knife, yet I knew this recipe could work with the $9.99 clumsy chef’s knife I procured at the supermarket (I wonder whatever happened to that thing? Off in a better place, I hope).
Six years ago, I never dreamed of doing something so ambitions as roasting a chicken on my own, so I did it the Giada way and picked up several precooked chickens, picked off the meat with my fingers and hacked through chopping the parsley and slicing the peppers with my dull knife and tossed everything together with my (clean) hands. People, I could not believe how good this tasted — and that I made it! I can still recall the moment I tried it — standing in my old kitchen with pink tile floors (ugly, but easy to keep clean), hovering over the bowl of salad. If you are feeling a little unprepared, inexperienced or unlucky in the kitchen these days I promise that Italian chicken salad is exactly what you need.
italian chicken salad
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
yields 12 appetizer servings
10c coarsely shredded cooked chicken (from about 3 purchased roasted whole chickens)
2c roasted red and yellow bell peppers, drained, patted dry, and coarsely chopped
1-1/4c very thinly sliced red onion
3/4c chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3/4c slivered almonds, toasted
1/2c drained capers
red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
salt and pepper
24 butter lettuce leaves (from about 3 large heads), optional
1 (4-ounce) piece Parmesan, shaved with vegetable peeler
In a large bow, toss the chicken, bell peppers, onion, parsley, almonds, and capers with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Season the chicken salad with salt and pepper, to taste.
Arrange 1 large lettuce cup and 1 small lettuce cup on each plate, overlapping slightly. Spoon the chicken salad into the lettuce cups. Drizzle more vinaigrette over the salads (optional). Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.
red wine vinaigrette
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
yields about 1 cup
1/4c red wine vinegar
1/8c lemon juice
1/2c olive oil
Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the oil and blend until emulsified. Can be made several days ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature and blend again before serving.