Friday, 7 September 2007

Finally



After a few false starts it seems Spring is finally here. Perhaps I was a little too hopeful back in August when I thought Spring had come early. Each hint of sunshine was followed by a heavy dose of grey, wind and rain. I think I can safely assume now that it’s only going to get better from here. In a few months you’ll hear me complaining about the excessive heat and escaping to the coast but for now I am delighted that Spring has sprung. I’m delighted by the flowering cherry blossoms that have turned my street into a carpet of the palest pink and cream, afternoons reading in the sunshine and salads bursting with the freshest of flavours.

During the warmer months hundreds of platefuls of salad will grace my table so I refuse to tolerate any of those iceberg and sliced tomato creations that featured all to frequently in the BBQs of my childhood. Instead I seek layered flavours and textures and believe even warm salads should offer a burst of freshness. This time I’ve chosen to use zesty citrus to lighten the richness of smoked chicken. It’s finished with sliced radish and a sprinkle of toasted almonds because a salad should never be short on crunch. I’ve chosen to caramelise the mandarins to bring out all their juicy glory while leaving the striking ruby grapefruit segments untouched. The caramelised juices are drizzled over the finished salad to create a warm oil-free dressing. It’s tangy and sweet with a smoky richness and best of all it will be ready in minutes.

I must admit that until recently I had an unreasonable aversion to grape fruit. I have now learnt to love the sight of these ruby jewels. I think they pair beautifully with meats in savoury uses and are underused compared to the more traditional pairings of pork and apple or duck and cherry. This salad highlights this beautiful fruit and will be my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Katie of Thyme for Cooking.




Smoked Chicken Salad with Caramelised Mandarins and Grapefruit

Serves 2
1 mandarin or small orange peeled and segmented
1 pink grapefruit (peeled and segmented)
2 cups mixed salad greens
1 smoked chicken breast
2 sliced radishes
1 tsp slivered almonds

Dressing
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salted butter
1-2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or a mix of water and vinegar if yours is particularly tart)

To ensure stress free assembly I advise preparing all your ingredients before you commence cooking. Peel and segment the mandarin and grapefruit, finely slice the radish, wash your greens and slice the chicken breast on the diagonal.

Heat a pan over high heat without any oil. Toss in the slivered almonds and allow to toast but not burn. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan over medium heat melt the butter. Before it browns stir through the sugar until dissolved. Add the mandarin segments and allow a golden caramel crust to form then remove the segments from the pan. Pour in the white balsamic vinegar to combine with the remaining caramel juices. Add vinegar to taste until you reach the perfect balance of sweet and tanginess. You don’t want it to be excessively sour but you’ll need hint of acid to avoid an overly sweet dressing.

To assemble begin by placing your greens on a serving plate. Top with the sliced smoked chicken. Layer over the mandarin and grapefruit segments. Finish the sliced radishes. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with slivered almonds.


29 comments:

Anh said...

Truffle. This sounds like a very delightful salad. I agree with you that citrus are so lovely with almost anything.

Wendy said...

Beautiful beautiful salad! I love citrus fruits with greens.
The leaves are just beginning to turn here.. :)

Truffle said...

Thanks so much Anh. I was told I was allergic to citrus as a child so perhaps I take particular delight in using it now. That doctor was obviously completely wrong!

Wendy- thank you! Sounds lovely. I think I adore the change of Autumn and Spring so much more than the extremes of Summer and Winter. Looking forward to reading your Autumn recipes.

Figs Olives Wine said...

I love that you caramelized the mandarins here! What a beautiful combination of fresh and smoky citrus - really gorgeous recipe and photos.

katiez said...

Gorgeous salad! Caramelized mandarins - what an interesting idea!
Congratulations on the arrival of Spring!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Wonderful Truffle! We've just returned from a walk picking blackberries and sloes. I love Spring and Autumn too. They're just so full of change. We have a blackberry and apple crumble in the oven for pudding..... Our Autumn to your Spring.

Truffle said...

Figs Olives Wine -Thank you so much! I think if your have particularly plump sweet mandarins you could skip the caramelising but I like the idea of the contrasting fruits.

katiez - Thank you! Looking forward to the round up :)

Amanda at Little Foodies - Thank you! Oh that sounds just gorgeous. What a treat for the boys!

IronEaters said...

lov the color. the salad definitely looks apppetising =)
and I feel delighted too that Spring is here =D

Lucy said...

Those caramelised mandarins sound heavenly Truffle.

So happy that I can stretch out in the sun in the afternoons again. And with all that good weather the season of bounty begins. V. exciting stuff!

Truffle said...

IronEaters - Thank you so much! I'm glad you're excited too :)

Lucy - It's just lovely, isn't it? Can't wait to see what you do with this season's produce!

Cynthia said...

If it's only spring and these are the creations we are seeing and I can't wait to see what you'll feed us during the summer! I love your idea of layering the salad with different flavours and textures, not to mention, colours.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Happy spring Truffle! I love caramelizing citrus fruits! Very fresh and tasty looking salad!

Kelly-Jane said...

Delicious salad! I so like fruit and meat, yum =)

Truffle said...

Cynthia - thank you so much!

JennDZ - thank you! It's something I've only recently started doing so glad to hear you like it too.

Kelly-Jane - it's a combination I started to really like too. Works very well!

Serenity Later said...

What a visually stunning salad Truffle! I have to agree with you on the whole grapefruit issue, i've never been too fond of the taste of these fellas but perhaps using them in a savoury setting is the best way to enjoy them (kind of like limes?). Very nice indeed!

Big Boys Oven said...

so vibrant, so colourful..... so irresistable......

Nirmala said...

I love fruit in salad. I would not have thought to carmelize the fruit. This is inspiring. I can't wait to try it.

Truffle said...

Serenity Later - Thank you! I find grapefruits vary greatly in quality so it's important to find the best you can. For me that's a balance of sweetness with just a hint of tart bitterness. I think another use of them that works well is when they accompany rich desserts and cut through something like a decadent chocolate cake.

Big Boys Oven - thanks so much!

Nirmala - thank you! What I love best is that the caramelised juices make a lovely dressing. I hope you enjoy it!

joey said...

That looks like a fabulous salad! I love it! :)

Nora B. said...

ah, how pretty, Truffle. Perfect for the season. Perfect combination of flavors and textures.

Kalyn said...

Sounds wonderful! I love the sound of how you've done the grapefruit.

Truffle said...

joey - thank you so much and thanks for visiting :)

Nora B- thanks very much. I imagine I'll be eating a lot of salads over the coming months so you have to keep them interesting!

this little mainyacha said...

Gorgeous!!

Cris said...

This sure looks so yummy! I love fruits mixed with greens.

Truffle said...

this little mainyacha - thank you!

Cris - thanks! I love the combination too.

Susan said...

What a beautifully pastel plate of sweet tangy smoky flavors, Truffle. This is an idea dish to welcome spring with.

Mansi Desai said...

I love almonds in my sald too...in fact I just posted about my spinach-strawberry-almond salad!!

yours looks lovely with the oranges!

Mansi Desai said...

love your blog truffle! would you care to be interested in exchanging links? any case, I'm already adding you:)

Truffle said...

Thanks so much Susan!

Mansi Desai- That's very kind of you. I'm happy to do the same!