Thursday, 20 February 2014

Renew the Menu: Warm Crunchy Chicken Salad with Sugar-Free Balsamic Dressing

Warm Crunchy Chicken Salad with Sugar-Free Balsamic Dressing. There is a café in Lygon Street, Carlton (Melbourne’s Little Italy for those not from Oz) that does a great warm chicken salad that husband just loves. Although I love the atmosphere of Lygon Street most of the restaurants and cafes that line the streets are disappointingly overrated in my opinion but if we do happen to be wandering around the area then this café’s salad pulls husband in.

Husband has asked me to replicate the salad numerous times but again since salad is not really a popular toddler meal I usually dismiss it. But this week after struggling to come up with more meal ideas I thought “Stuff it, I’ll make the chicken salad”. The basis of the salad is chicken schnitzel, which since being married to an Italian makes a regular appearance at our house. Chicken or Veal ‘Cotoletta’ is a family favourite in most Italian households and I embrace this one whole heartedly. Roast some beautiful small tomatoes in the oven, add some bacon and some green leaves and top with some balsamic dressing and parmesan shavings and you’ve got it. Simple but really moreish.

Must change tablecloth!
The only tricky part to this meal was finding a sugar-free alternative to balsamic vinegar dressing. I googled it beforehand and was surprised there wasn’t any recipes glaring back at me from the screen. So I was even more pleased when a quick experiment with three ingredients nailed it first go! The tomatoes do contain fructose and when roasted concentrate the sugar content so omit if you are strictly sugar-free.

The kids ate a deconstructed version of the salad…when I say deconstructed I mean they ate the chicken schnitzel (well at least its protein and carbs covered!). This time I decided not to beat myself up for the lack of vegetables on their plate and instead relished eating a meal without having to fight the never-ending vegetable-toddler battle during dinner time!

Warm Crunchy Chicken Salad with Sugar-Free Balsamic Dressing
Serves 4

500g free range chicken breasts
Breadcrumbs and Panko crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated parmesan
Salad leaves (I used what I had in the fridge, baby kale, spinach and rocket)
6 baby tomatoes, quartered
Dried oregano
2 rashes bacon, diced
Shaved parmesan (omitted in photos!)
Croutons (I didn’t have any, but you can also top with homemade croutons for extra crunch)
Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius

1.       Cut each breast into quarters (slicing any larger pieces in half) and using a meat mallet pound into thin fillets
2.       Cut baby tomatoes into quarters, toss in olive oil and place on oven tray. Sprinkle with salt and dried oregano and cook for approx. 20 minutes
3.       Combine breadcrumbs, panko crumbs and parmesan on a plate. Crumb chicken by dipping in egg then coating with crumb mixture making sure to press crumbs onto fillet
4.       Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in pan, once oil comes to medium heat place chicken pieces in pan turning once golden. Fry until cooked through. (Chicken should be cooked in 2-3 batches to make sure pan isn’t overcrowded. Make sure you take pan off heat and wipe out any leftover crumbs between batches before repeating method)
5.       Once chicken is cooked, slice into thin strips
6.       Assemble plate with salad leaves, chicken and tomatoes
7.       Fry diced bacon in small frying pan. Sprinkle onto salad
8.       Top with shaved parmesan, croutons (if using) and balsamic dressing
Sugar-Free Balsamic Dressing

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon rice malt syrup
1 small garlic clove, crushed

1.       Combine ingredients in small pan, heat on low heat until rice malt syrup is dissolved
2.       Once cooled spoon onto salad

*For larger quantity simple multiply ingredients proportionately

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