Monday, December 17, 2007

Recipe Box: Avocado Pecan Bleu Salad with Blackened Chicken

This salad is one they sell at Culver's. I'm a big fan of it, but anything can be made better! Obviously for veg/vegan, just leave out the chicken.

The Salad:

2-3 cups Baby lettuce mix, something mild and sweet in flavor. The spring mix doesn't work as well with these flavors since it involves more bitter/peppery greens.

1 ripe avocado, peeled, depitted, sliced and/or chunked

1/4 cup blue cheese (Gorgonzola works well, or whatever variety you prefer)

1/4 cup toasted pecans (if you have raw pecans, you can toast them in your oven's broiler or a dry cast iron stove-top pan if you stir constantly)

Diced red onions (optional)

diced tomatos (optional)

1 Tbsp chopped green onion (optional)

The Chicken:

1 small chicken breast
1 small lime or 1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbsp finely-diced cilantro
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Pre-heat a skillet to approx 400 degrees F (medium-high)

Mix the spices, oil and lime juice well together (will form a paste)

Dredge the chicken in the ingredients/coat with paste

cook in hot skillet until a little blackened on one side, turn and blacken on the other (6-8 minutes or until meat is cooked through)

Julienne (slice into strips) and add to salad

To Serve:

Culver's serves this with a cherry vinaigrette, but I don't think it goes well with the avocado. I've seen lime vinaigrette with the gourmet dressings in supermarkets but I haven't tried it. I'd actually recommend hitting the chips and salsa aisle or the Mexican section of the international food aisle and trying to find mango salsa to use instead of dressing. I believe it would really work well with all the ingredients. Otherwise you could try a white-wine vinaigrette, or even just something homemade:

1 peeled, pitted and chopped ripe Mango
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (preferably seasoned)
1 cup light oil (olive, etc.)
1 lime's worth of grated zest and juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and white pepper to taste (can substitute black pepper if needed)

Put all but the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Add the oil a little at a time while the blender/processor is running. This dressing can also be stored for a couple weeks in the fridge.

If you have an aversion to yummy stinky cheeses you could substitute a mild mozzarella or queso fresco.

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