Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Salad Days

With summer creeping up on us comes the time for lighter fare. As I will be experiencing a European winter instead of long summer days in less than two weeks, I am particularly keen to savour the simple things I know I will be missing all too soon.

Salad days involve excellent produce prepared without fuss and with minimal time actually spent in the kitchen. I'm always ready for a spring evening lingering over moist roast chicken and a bottle of wine because I know it requires mere minutes of preparation and I can read outside in the sunshine while it achieves a glorious burnished perfection. The recipe below is ideally suited to the leftovers of the said bird but I’ve been known to roast just for this purpose. While there is certainly no shortage of roast chicken recipes, this is my spring version; chicken deeply infused with rosemary and lemon and creamy slices of avocado balanced with sweet roast capsicum over a bed of perfectly dressed salad greens. There is something magical about the simplicity of chicken and avocado particularly when you drench the lot in a dressing of herby pan juices whisked with red wine vinegar. As those of you who follow this blog will know all too well, I don’t exercise a lot of restraint in gastronomic matters but this is one salad that will never leave you feeling deprived.

The warmer climate has also brought something else; a second wind of culinary inspiration. While I am unlikely to start seeking out fussy and pretentious food or enjoying laborious preparations, I am desperately keen to discover new produce, markets and local specialities both here and on my travels. Mostly importantly, perhaps, I am keen to start sharing it and writing more regularly.

Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken with Avocado Salad

Serves 4

1 avocado
1 red capsicum
4 cups mixed salad leaves
1 whole chicken, the best you can find
olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar

Wash your bird thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Squeeze half a lemon over the chicken and once juiced place it in the cavity to infuse the chicken with its aroma during the baking. Season liberally with salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil. In a suitably large roasting pan place your chicken on a bed of rosemary. In the same tin pop in your capsicum for roasting. Add another glug of olive oil for good measure and place uncovered in an oven, preheated to 200C. After 40 minutes baste your chicken and cover with foil if browning too quickly. Remove your capsicum at this stage. It should be done within another 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the bird. Prick the thigh and if the juices run clear, you’re ready to proceed.

Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil while you prepare the salad. Skim any fat off from the pan juices and remove the rosemary. Place your tin on the stovetop and whisk in the red wine vinegar. You may require less depending on the quantity of pan juices. Season to taste.

Slip the skin off your roast capsicum to reveal the sweet flesh. Deseed and chop roughly. Halve and deseed your avocado. Slice generously. When your chicken has cooled sufficiently, shred the meat and fight off any fingers attempting to devour the crispy lemony skin.

On a large serving platter place a bed of mixed salad leaves. Top with the shredded chicken, avocado and capsicum. Drizzle with the pan juice dressing and finish with a good grinding of pepper and a handful of baby basil leaves. Serve with crusty bread and wine.


Coffee & Vanilla said...

What a beautiful and colorful salad! Mmmm, avocado... I think I will run to the shop to get one! :)


Wendy said...

I don't care if it's November and 6oC outside. This is what I want for dinner! Gorgeous.
Are you heading to Europe for a holiday or a longer trip?

Susan said...

What a brilliantly colorful salad that is; no wonder it has inspired you.

Peter M said...

That alone is a meal and it looks vibrant.

Truffle said...

Margot- Thank you so much! I adore avocado but somehow it tastes even better with chicken. Chicken and avocado sandwiches are also very popular with me.

Wendy- Thank you! I wish I could send some over. At this stage it's looking like an extended trip. A couple of months spread over England, Ireland, France and Spain. I'm very excited!

Susan- I do love the colours. I miss such colourful food in the colder months.

Peter - Thank you!

Dana said...

That sounds like an exciting trip! I'd come all the way to Melbourne just for a taste of that salad...

Lucy said...

Yeah Truffle - get writing and sharing I say. So pleased you're feling refrehed and reinvigorated.

A European winter? Jealous as hell, but write and write and come back with new tales.

Can't wait for salads and summer.

Wendy said...

Let me know if you're anywhere near Scotland and I'll cook you dinner. :)

Cindy said...

A fabulous spring salad, Truffle! I shall have to devise a way to dress some legumes as a (pale) imitation of the chicken...

Anh said...

Lovely salad! I am preparing myself for eating more salad this summer. (Normally I am not much of a salad eater). And yours looks like a really lovely option!

Linda said...

That salad makes me want to lick the screen! It looks very delish!

Susan said...

Avocado always makes me feel like summer even in the dead of winter. A very pretty salad, Truffle, and one that could stand alone for color and flavor even if you felt like a meatless meal.

mutemonkey said...

Looking good, Truffle! You may have inspired me for Friday's lunch... :)

Truffle said...

Dana - what a lovely thing to say! I'd love to cook it for you!

Lucy - I'm sure they'll be no shortage of tales. I'm squeezing in some travel before I start a new job and terribly excited.

Wendy - Oh thank you so much! That's really lovely of you.

Cindy - I almost think lentils would work better because I just adore them with roasted red capsicum. Perhaps some puy lentils?

Anh - I'm so glad you like the look of it. It can be hard to get excited over salads but with a bit of effort I think they can be lovely.

Linda - thanks so much! That's so nice of you!

Susan - I couldn't agree more about the avocado. Thank you!

mutemonkey - thanks very much! I hope you like it!

Gloria said...

Delicious salad! I Like so! We are on Spring too, but now is summer!!!!! 31º today!! We almost don't have spring! xxxxxxGloria

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, Truffle!
This would convert even the most radical salad hater!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I love chicken and avacado together. This looks wonderful although it's a bitterly cold day in England and I'd need to want to eat it near an roaring log fire!

winedeb said...

Hi Truffle! I come visiting you through, I do not remember who's site, but I see your comments alot so I thought I would pay you a visit. You have a lovely, yummy site! That salad looks awesome!
I will be back! Cheers!

Serenity Later said...

Ooh Truffle what a marvellous array of colours! I agree with you 100% on the divine pairing of chicken with avocado - its up there with orange and almonds as far as i'm concerned.

How lucky are you to be spending the next couple of months in europe! I'm quite jealous now as i'm not a fan of summer so i'd much prefer to be up in the northern hemisphere over christmas! Have a wonderful time Truffle and hope we get to read up on your gastronomic adventures!

DaviMack said...

Can you feel the envy, away across the world & in a different hemisphere? We're just now running towards winter here in the UK ... it was 3 degrees C this evening, in Glasgow! And you get summer!

Looks delicious!

Cynthia said...

I'm excited to try this salad. It look gorgeous, Nora.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That is so my kind of salad! Beautiful, refreshing and full of flavor! YUM! So reminds me of summer that has definately ended here.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful salad, Truffle :) I'm looking forward to reading about your travels. Have lots of fun!

katiez said...

Fantastic salad! I can see why you roast the chicken just for it!
If you hurry, we still have avocados and peppers.....
We're still having lovely weather in France!

Truffle said...

Gloria - that sounds delightfully warm. Thank you!

Patricia Scarpin - thanks very much and thanks for reading.

Amanda at Little Foodies - a roaring log fire sounds like the the perfect way to eat this in winter. Thanks!

winedeb - thank you very much and thanks for visiting!

Serenity Later - orange and almonds are a heavenly combination.

I do love an Australian summer although winter in Europe will be cosy and romantic I'm sure. Thanks so much!

DaviMack - It sounds like I'm going to need to rug up when I head over! Thanks very much!

Cynthia -Thank you!

JennDZ - Thanks so much. I'm glad you like it!

Maryann- Thank you very much. I can't wait to share them!

katiez - I'm so pleased to hear about the weather there. Can't wait!

Kelly-Jane said...

Another great healthy salad, and such pretty colours too =)

Big Boys Oven said...

this salad is definitely a hit!

vida said...

Was hoping you were coming to the bloggers meet up, was looking forward to meeting you, maybe next time? I am soooooooooo jealous re: your trip!! Vida x x

ilingc said...

Truffle, this looks wonderful. It's very summery indeed and is making me think about home :(
I too will miss out on summer and will be experiencing the European winter this year. Am hoping it doesn't get too cold! *fingers crossed*

Nora B. said...

Salad days are definitely here. I love the combination of avocado & roast chicken. I have that quite often, all year round.

Tartelette said...

I love avocados in my salads and this one is just jumping at me! Beautiful creations once again!

The Cooking Ninja said...

I love avocado in my salad. :)

Bellini Valli said...

It all looks delicious Truffle. I envy your move to warmer days and fresh garden ingredients. We are of course moving over to canned preserves and root vegetables.

The Culinary Chase said...

Yum! All of my favorite ingredients in this salad! Cheers! Heather

Truffle said...

Kelly-Jane - thanks so much! I love colourful food when the weather gets warmer.

Big Boys Oven - that's so lovely of you. Thanks!

vida - I'm so sorry I didn't make it. I've been swamped with work before I head off but it sounds wonderful.

ilingc - where are you heading to? I'm also hoping it isn't too chilly!

Nora B. - it's definitely a great staple. Thanks very much!

Tartelette - Thank you! Avocados always seem to make a lovely addition to salads.

The Cooking Ninja - me too! It's one of my favourite ingredients.

Bellini Valli - thanks so much for popping by. I do adore some roast veg! One of the best bits about the cooler months.

Heather- I'm so pleased you like the sound of it. Thanks for reading.

ilingc said...

I'm in London! Going to be here for the next year or two and we're heading on our first european trip in 2 weeks to Luxembourg and then to the christmas markets in Bremen.
I hope the weather will be kind to the both of us! :)

Genie said...

Truffle, that sounds crazy-good! Love the pan-juice dressing. I'm making this sometime soon even if I'm facing down winter!

Truffle said...

ilingc- that sounds fantastic! Hope you have a wonderful time.

Genie - Thank you so much! I'm really glad you like the sound of it.

Chris said...

Wow - I am loving the winter foods I am eating right now, but this salad? Where did summer go? It looks do good!!!