Salad for Supper by Chef Laura Brennan
August 16, 2018
I recently went to see a nutritionist and was told to eat more vegetables!
And here I was thinking that I’m a Chef, so of course I eat (enough) vegetables. During an analysis of what I actually do eat…. well.…I actually do not eat enough vegetables after all !!
And I know that in order to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, I will have to have parts of my meal already prepared. Luckily, we live in an era and area of readily available and very good quality prepared foods-- i.e. Foodies’ Markets!
- Prep: 35 mins
- Cook: 35 mins
- Yields: Serves 2 as a main course (or 4 as part of a larger meal)
broccoli head(s), about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ lb.
½ bunch curly or Italian parsley
1 small bunch cilantro
½ teaspoon mashed garlic
½ bunch scallions
1-inch piece fresh gingerroot
1 medium jalapeno pepper
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons or more to taste, rice wine vinegar
¼ cup canola or mild vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
½ cup tahini
½ cup warm water, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Purchased prepared/cooked ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken (or cooked protein of your choice)
1 pint prepared roasted peppers and onions
Begin by trimming the broccoli head into smaller pieces; into broccoli ‘flowerettes’. Peel and trim the stalks/stems into small pieces as well. (Note that that very end of the stalk, the last inch or so, can be very dry and ‘woody’, so discard.) Prepare a large pot of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add enough salt to taste salty, ‘like-the-sea’, and blanch the broccoli pieces for 1 minute after the water comes back to a boil. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, remove the cooked pieces to a sheet pan lined with a cloth or paper towels. Spread the pieces out to cool. (Some recipes would have you put the cooked broccoli pieces directly into an ice-bath, but I feel it just makes the broccoli very watery. And this is a relatively small batch of broccoli.)
Make the dressing. Wash and dry the herbs: the parsley, cilantro and scallions. While waiting for the herbs to dry (we don’t chop wet herbs), peel and mince the garlic and gingerroot. The finer the paste, the nicer the final product. Add to a bowl large enough to whisk 2 cups of finished dressing. Add the minced ginger and garlic to the bowl. Chop the parsley and cilantro and add to the bowl. Cut the scallions, both white and green parts, into very small slivers and add to the bowl. Cut the jalapeño pepper in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Cut lengthwise into slivers and then across into a fine dice. Add to the bowl.
Whisk to combine while adding the vegetable and sesame oils, the lime juice and rice wine vinegar.
Add a pinch of kosher salt.
Tahini. The tahini is most likely separated in the jar; that is the sesame oil is sitting at the top of the jar with the solids (the ground sesame seed paste) separated out underneath. Dump out the contents of the jar into a bowl and stir/whisk to combine the oil and solids. Measure ½ cup tahini after it has been re-emulsified.
Slowly add the tahini to the bowl of dressing and whisk to combine everything. Adding 2-4 tablespoons of warm (not hot) water will aid in this process. Add more water as needed. Taste and adjust to your liking with more acid (lime juice and/or rice wine vinegar), garlic, ginger, salt and pepper.
You should have a creamy, thick and pourable dressing.
If your roasted peppers are cold, re-warm them briefly in a sauté pan. Bring them-up to room temperature, no need to make them piping hot. Remove to a new bowl, add the blanched broccoli pieces and coat with a few tablespoons of your prepared dressing. Add a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper. Toss gently to combine.
Prepare the rotisserie chicken: I removed the breasts from the chicken, leaving the skin intact and cut the breasts across into two pieces each. Next, I removed the legs and separated the thighs and the drumsticks. I set the drumsticks aside and removed the bone from the thighs and cut each thigh lengthwise into two pieces as well.
Choose a platter large enough to hold all your salad fixins’. Spoon a few tablespoons of dressing on the bottom of the platter. Spread to cover, but not all the way to the edge. Circle the platter with the chicken pieces, alternating breast and thigh pieces. Drizzle with dressing. Season lightly with a pinch of salt and a bit of fresh pepper. Top with the ‘dressed’ roasted peppers and broccoli.
Serve with a bowl of extra dressing on the side.
For this dish
~I bought a cooked rotisserie chicken
~I bought prepared ‘roasted peppers and onions’: multi-colored red, yellow, orange, green peppers, roasted with olive oil, garlic and small chunks of Vidalia onion.
~I bought a head of broccoli and trimmed and blanched it
~I bought some fresh herbs, gingerroot and tahini and made a delicious, unctuous dressing using other staples from my own pantry.