Moroccan Chicken Salad with Apricots and Almonds

SFS_moroccan_chicken_salad_apricots_almonds-6

SERVES 4 TO 6 
TO PREP 1 HOUR 
STORE UP TO 2 DAYS 
TO FINISH 20 MINUTES

Why This Recipe Works: For a creative take on a fresh chicken salad, we were inspired by the flavors of Morocco—apricots, lemon, and warm spices. Instead of pulling out half the spice cabinet to flavor our dressing, we reached for garam masala, a traditional spice blend of coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper that gave the dressing complex flavor without any fuss. We fortified the dressing with a little more coriander, honey, and a pinch of smoked paprika for depth. Microwaving the spices in a little oil was a quick and easy way to bloom them, deepening their flavors for an even bolder dressing. Chickpeas further echoed the Moroccan theme and lent heartiness, and fresh, crisp romaine combined with slightly bitter watercress made the perfect bed of greens to complement our toppings. Tossing the chicken mixture with a little extra dressing refreshed the flavors before serving, and a sprinkling of toasted almonds lent the perfect crunch to the finished salad.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch smoked paprika
1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 tablespoon honey
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
1 shallot, sliced thin
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped coarse
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces (4 cups) watercress
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarse

TO PREP

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chicken well on first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken, add 1/2 cup water, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer chicken to carving board, let cool slightly, then slice 1/2 inch thick on bias. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, microwave 1 tablespoon oil, garam masala, coriander, and paprika in medium bowl until oil is hot and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk 3 tablespoons lemon juice, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into spice mixture. Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining oil.

3. In large bowl, combine cooled chicken, ­chickpeas, shallot, apricots, parsley, and half of dressing and toss to coat; cover. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into remaining dressing; cover.

4. Toss romaine, watercress, and almonds together in separate bowl; cover.

TO STORE

5. Refrigerate chicken mixture, dressing, and ­lettuce mixture separately for up to 2 days.

TO FINISH AND SERVE

6. Remove chicken mixture, dressing, and lettuce mixture from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Whisk dressing to recombine, drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over chicken mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss lettuce mixture with remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer lettuce mixture to serving platter and top with chicken mixture. Serve.

Save Some Dressing

To flavor our fresh chicken salad, we made a bold dressing of lemon juice, honey, and warm spices. We used half the dressing to marinate the chicken overnight, ­infusing it with flavor, and stored the remaining dressing and the lettuce separately. We brightened the remaining dressing with a squeeze of lemon juice before adding it to the salad on day two.


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