Tuesday, 2 July 2013

St. Tropez chicken salad

Perhaps the all time favourite in my picnic basket is St.Tropez salad, which I have been buying from Stockmann's Deli in Helsinki for impromptu picnics for years. Truck loads of it. This salad actually taught me to appreciate broccoli (no deep-frying or bacon required!)

I have since developed my own take on it. Which still gets made in huge quantities as this finds fans everywhere it goes. I dare to say this is one of those Karate Kid instances where the pupil has surpassed the master - this is actually better than the store-bought one. According to the desires of your palate you could also add olives (none of today's diners were fans) or good mozzarella. Occasionally I have added Serrano ham or chorizo (the sliced variety) too.

Chicken could be one of those skinless, bone-free, thin-cut... no, wait, no, it couldn't. Chicken needs to be cooked on the bone and with the skin on - they just give it so much flavour. If you want, the chicken could also be substituted with chunks of good ham. Or you could leave the chicken out and make this vegetarian by using mushrooms fried (or marinated) in Mediterranean herb oil (garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano...) - recipe for those mushrooms coming up on the blog!

This is nothing if not easy - even the dressing comes from the ingredients themselves!

As a main this is enough for 8, as part of a picnic feast this feeds 14-16.

3 chicken leg & thighs or breasts (on the bone)
250 g tricolori pasta
1 red onion
1 broccoli head (appr. 400 g)
390 g jar artichokes
1/2  of 330 g jar of sun-dried tomatos in basil oil (use ones with some acidity!)
4 cloves of garlic
a couple of handfuls of either basil or rucola
salt, pepper

Like always when cooking meat, take the chicken out at least an hour in advance. Bake it in the oven in 175 ° until the skin is golden and crisp and the juices run clear - about 45 minutes. Let cool and cut into chunks.

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the packet - in the meanwhile cut the broccoli into suitable chunks and steam in a steaming basket over the pasta water.

Drain the artichokes (if they're preserved in herby oil, reserve the liquid and use it as a salad dressing or for frying) and if needed, cut into smaller pieces.

Finely slice the garlic and red onion and place into the serving dish.  As the pasta has cooked, drain it and pour onto the onions and keep covered for a while - the residual heat softens the onions making them less bitter.

Carefully toss together the chicken, artichokes, broccoli and sun-dried tomatos (cut into smaller chunks if needed) into the pasta. Top with the oil from sun-dried tomatos and season well. Before serving fold in the basil or rucola leaves.

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