Hold the mayo. Served in all its myriad forms to the Ladies Who Lunch, chicken salad is rarely seen without its creamy cohort, mayonnaise. This lighter version of chicken salad brims with the bold, bright flavors of Latin cuisine.
Perfectly poached, good-girl, chicken breast tenders are marinated in a vibrant vinaigrette of lime, garlic, minced fresh cilantro and a touch of agave nectar, then garnished with buttery sliced avocado and colorful kumquats. To go with, thick-cut heirloom tomatoes are always a hit.
For a swankier soiree, this versatile vinaigrette also shines with plump, chilled shrimp or lobster. Serve in martini glasses with an olive and crunchy tortilla strips.
Cilantro Lime Chic-n Salad with Roasted Pepitas and Cumquats
Serves 4 to 6
3 pounds chicken breast tenders
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 Serrano chili, roughly chopped (seed the pepper for a milder vinaigrette)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt, cracked black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup roasted, salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Sliced avocado and kumquats, to garnish
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Poach in 6 cups chicken stock, careful not to overcook. Drain and set aside to cool.
In a blender or food processor, combine ginger paste, garlic and chili, pulsing until finely minced. Pour in lime juice, agave nectar and vinegar, pulsing to combine. Add cilantro and pulse again, then slowly drizzle in olive oil as blender runs to emulsify.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear into bite-size pieces. Place in and stir in vinaigrette, tossing to combine. Add pepitas and toss again. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish serving plates with avocado and kumquats.
Diva Confession: All too often, "boneless skinless" translates into tough and tasteless. The reason? Most of us overcook chicken breasts. Poaching is an incredibly lean and healthy way to enjoy your chicken and eat it too. The trick is using stock, preferably homemade, although boxed stocks will work. Never place raw chicken into boiling stock; the stock should be cool or at least room temperature. Place the chicken into the stock, then bring to a boil for just 1 minute, then cover and remove from heat. Allow the chicken to finish cooking in the hot stock for 15 minutes. Drain and cool, reserving the stock for another recipe.