Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups
Summer is here and I have been enjoying every single second of it! Tons of fruits and fresh veggies, farmer's markets, csa boxes, warm (ok sometimes really hot) weather, lots of homemade popsicles and ice cream, I could not be any happier than this!
It is by far my favorite season, my favorite time of the year, and with the wonderful hot weather we welcome any and all salads we can get our hands on, it is definitely cold foods season and again, I am totally enjoying!
I love salads, and as funny as this may sound, my salads rarely involve tons of leaves (which is what most people think of when talking about salads). I make salads with veggies, lots of it, a mix of colors and flavors, crunch and deliciousness tat pack a punch of nutrition to boot, something that only fresh veggies can give us in one big plate.
Zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, amazing summer tomatoes, grilled eggplants and other grilled veggies, avocados, sometimes fruits (watermelon + tomatoes makes an amazing salad!), all of these end up on my salad concoctions. Plus I always add some protein to make it more filling and delicious too: tofu, white beans, lentils or chickpeas (my favorites), grilled chicken, lots of possibilities here, and most of the time I add a bit of cheese too, usually goat cheese, ricotta salatta (both add some white color which make the salad more colorful!) or Parmesan shavings.
Now tell me, how can this be not good? :-)
This talk about salad brings me to this Giada Di Laurentiis recipe for Italian Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups which I have made numerous times and absolutely love the flavors. I have made it so many times already this summer, and I love it every single time I do.
This salad is packed with good protein from the roasted chicken, crunch from toasted almonds, veggie wonders from delicious roasted peppers and a punch from capers and a delicious vinaigrette, and the best part: you can eat it in cute butter lettuce "cups", which add so much to the meal, I love the experience of playing with your food. Plus I just love butter lettuce, it truly have a "buttery" feel, it is so tender, as I said, I am not big on lettuce, but this is one of my very favorite ones! (I do love spinach salad though, really, really like it!)
You can serve this salad as an appetizer, at a dinner party, whenever you feel like. We have had it for lunch and we love it! All I make is some rice or couscous to accompany it and some more veggies (because I just eat lots of veggies) and we are set.
A refreshing summer meal that is not only filling but totally delicious!
Ps: Giada's recipe makes a ton and serves 12, so divide it accordingly to how much you want to make. I usually wing the proportions to make for the three of us (or more when I served it to company), but it is easy to divide in half or in quarters if you need to serve 6 or only 3.
Anyway you decide to divide, don't worry if you have salad left, it is delicious on the next day too!
Also, Giada served it as appetizers and plated every single lettuce cups. I served it "family style", the salad in a big bowl and the lettuce cups in a platter, so each person could put their own portions together, which also ended up offering the option of just eating the salad in your plate without the lettuce if one chose to do so.
Italian Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups
(Adapted from a recipe by Giada Di Laurentiis)
10 cups shredded cooked chicken (you can use rotisserie chicken, and need about 3 for this much)
2 cups roasted red and yellow bell peppers chopped (drain and pat dry if using
1 1/4 cups paper thin slices of red onions
3/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup capers, drained
About 1 1/2 cups red wine vinaigrette (recipe bellow)
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter lettuce leaves
4 ounces of Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
In a large bowl toss together the chicken, bell peppers, onion, parsley, almonds, and capers with enough vinaigrette to season and moisten it. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding salt and pepper as necessary.
Spoon chicken salad into lettuce cups and arrange into plates. Sprinkle with the Parmesan shaving right before serving.
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
In a blender add vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Turn it on to mix and, while the machine is running, add the oil and blend until emulsified.
Yield: 1 3/4 cups