For some reason there was one smoked chicken breast in the freezer, not really enough to feed more than two people. It just so happened that there were only two of us for dinner, and combined with a few purple potatoes, green beans, hardboiled egg, grape tomatoes and mixed baby greens I turned it into a colourful, tasty salad. My inspiration was salad Nicoise, with the chicken replacing the tuna. I had no olives, so those were omitted!
The chicken and potato salad was warm, with a lemon caper mayonnaise, made using the juice from a lemon that had previously been zested and the last capers in the jar. It's a good idea to make the mayonnaise first, so that the flavours can blend while you prepare the rest of the salad.
In a bowl, combine:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons roughly chopped capers
Salt and pepper to taste
Set aside until needed.
In a pot of lightly salted water cook baby potatoes until tender. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle.
Cut the potatoes into quarters and place into a large bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Dice the smoked chicken breast and cook over a medium high heat until cooked through, with the edges starting to crisp slightly.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool while you prepare the greens.
Blanch green beans, drain and run under cold water to stop them from overcooking.
Start to plate the salad. Make a bed of mixed baby greens, and put a mound of green beans in the centre.
Scatter halved grape tomatoes around the beans.
Cut one hardboiled egg per person into wedges and place around the plate, as shown.
Add the cooked chicken and lemon caper mayonnaise to the potatoes and mix gently to combine, making sure that everything is coated with mayonnaise.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Place a generous amount of the warm chicken and potato salad on top of the green beans.
- I chose not to dress the salad greens as the mayonnaise that was on the potato and chicken salad was enough for everything; with the potatoes and chicken still being warm the mayonnaise melted slightly and this became the dressing for everything else. If you want to use a dressing on the greens something light would be best...try olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
- I often hard boil eggs and keep them in the fridge for snacks or use in meals like this. If you don't have eggs that are already cooked, boil them and when they are about 1 minute away from being cooked to your preference, add the green beans to the water to blanch.
- Traditionally salad Nicoise also has olives and anchovies along with the other ingredients. The greens are optional.
- If you have anchovies, add them to the salad, or mash them with the lemon juice and add them to the mayonnaise. Always keep in mind that anchovies are incredibly salty, so use them sparingly, and taste everything before seasoning with salt.
- The smoked chicken can be replaced with regular chicken breast, fresh grilled or seared tuna steak, canned tuna (if you can, use tuna that is in oil as it has more flavour and richness).
- The grape tomatoes can be replace with large tomatoes, cut into slices or wedges.
- To increase the lemon flavour in the mayonnaise use some lemon zest as well. My lemon had already been zested, so I couldn't do this.
- This is a perfect light lunch or a dinner on the patio in the summer. The salad can be taken on a picnic, or turned into a sandwhich by layering it all on fresh crusty bread.