Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pan-Seared-Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

Fast, flavorful, and old-fashioned. A quick pan-sear gives the chicken a light golden color and juicy, tender texture. Toss it with crisp, fresh bell pepper and celery, crunchy walnuts, and chewy dried cranberries for an inviting balance of textures—and taste. Add a creamy, hint-of-lemon dressing, let it chill, and you’re ready to serve.

Radicchio and Boston lettuce leaves make perfect little cups to hold the chicken salad. I had a mixture of eight small to medium leaves and used two per serving. If you have very large or very small leaves, adjust the number accordingly.

Even with a creamy dressing, this salad is pretty light. I served it with easy—and so good—goat cheese-maple toasts. Simply cut a baguette into thin, diagonal slices, toast until light brown and crunchy, spread with soft goat cheese, and drizzle with maple syrup. The combination of tangy cheese and sweet syrup is delightful.

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • sea salt
  • finely ground black pepper
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (breast halves or cutlets about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup broken walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 medium radicchio or Boston lettuce leaves, or a mixture (about 3 inches in diameter)

Salad Ingredients
  1. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.
Dressing for Salad
  1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear until lightly charred on the bottom, 5-6 minutes. 
  2. Turn and sear until just cooked through, 5-6 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate or board and let stand 15 minutes (until cool enough to handle).
  3. Shred the chicken and place in a large bowl. Add the celery, bell pepper, cranberries, walnuts, and parsley. Stir the mayo mixture into the chicken mixture and combine well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Chicken Beginning to Sear 
Pan-Seared Chicken 
Shredded Chicken 
Mixed Ingredients
Dressing Added
Divide the chicken salad among the lettuce cups and serve goat cheese-maple toasts alongside, if desired. 

Pan-Seared-Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

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