Chicken and Pomegranate Salad
Chinese Pomegranates are in season in Sept for about 3 months, so I bought some in the supermarché on a whim.
Ever since, I have been wondering what the hell to do with them as the boyfriend isn’t too keen on the pips.
I guessed I had to come up with another ingredient that would mask the crunchiness of the seeds within the pomegranate flesh, and today I came up with a winner:
Persian pomegranate chicken dishes usually have walnuts in them, so why not make a Chicken, Pomegranate and Walnut salad? Sounded tasty and the crunchy walnuts would be the perfect camo for the seeds. I looked online and found this was a fairly standard salad combo, so got to work on my version, and it ended up being very tasty.
Here it is (enough between 2 for lunch), note that all the measurements are fairly vague – use the proportions that you are happy with, this is just a foundation.
Small handful walnuts (or a handful of walnuts if you have small hands like me)
1/2 a small red onion or 3-4 spring onions
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tps vinegar (something light, I used red wine vinegar, but you could use white wine, raspberry , probably cider etc)
At least 3 tbs good extra virgin olive oil (tweak proportion to taste)
Good pinch of salt
Dribble of fish sauce (optional, I like it as it adds a touch of depth and always have it in the kitchen anyway)
Good pinch of ground black pepper
Small pinch of ground white pepper (I like the extra zing it has)
Cup or two of shredded chicken (either remains of the roast or a couple of poached chicken breasts)
Green leaves. I used a couple of small chinese lettuces which are quite like Romaine, but you could used anything up to and including strongly flavoured rocket or watercress.
Put the walnuts in a medium/hot oven (180-190°C) to roast for a 5-10mins (check they don’t burn and give them a shake half way through). It is worth roasting them as the texture becomes less brittle and it tends to take the bitterness away for some reason.
Roll the pomegranate on the kitchen unit to loosen the seeds (this sounds crunchy).
Cut in half like a grapefruit and then whack each half over your salad bowl with the back of a wooden spoon or something and out fly the seeds. Give the shell a good squeeze post pummel to get the juice out.
Add the finely chopped onion, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and fish sauce to the bowl and when the walnuts are done, break them up a bit and sling them in too.
Mix all these together thoroughly and taste the dressing, adjusting the seasoning whilst taking into account that you are going to be adding the lettuce and chicken to it – you want to try not to be adding more salt and pepper once you’ve added the bulking ingredients, as the salt tends to sit in the leaves rather than dissolving.
Add the chicken and the lettuce and toss well. Adjust the seasoning if you have to.
As I was eating it, I thought that adding a little chilli or sichuan pepper infused oil to it would work as it could definitely take some heat, although I think that actual addition of chopped chilli wouldn’t be a winner – I’ll definitely make sure I use some rocket next time for kick.
For a more Italian version of this, shavings (not gratings) of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano are a tried and tested addition.