Sunday, 3 May 2015

Fruity chicken and pineapple pasta salad

Finland is currently trying to get over May Day mayhem. The 1st of May (which this year fell for Friday) is a national holiday. It started as the celebration of the workers and was later adopted by the students as well. It turns the country into one massive picnic and Kaivopuisto park for instance annually hosts a good 30 000 picnic-goers! The weather, obviously, is never quire ideal for kicking off the picnic season... but that never seems to stop us!

Instead of a potato salad (a Finnish May Day picnic staple) I made this wonderfully sunny and comfortingly creamy chicken salad which gets lovely fruitiness from mango and curry dressing and pineapple chunks.

Another salad that is already shaping up to be a picnic classic was this spicy chickpea salad, which was an immediate hit the first time I made it. 

Because of it's impossible-to-ruin-juiciness, I prefer chicken cooked on the bone, but using breast fillets is obviously quicker. For easiest and quickest option use shop-bought rotisserie chicken. You'll get the amount of meat required for this recipe from either two good sized breasts or out of 3 thigh leg quarters.

For gluten-free version, use gluten-free pasta. For kosher (or dairy-free) diets, substitute Greek yogurt with coconut cream (the thick part on top of the tin of coconut milk)

Serves 4 or, as part of a buffet, 8

Fruity chicken and pineapple pasta salad:

350 g cooked chicken
200 g fusilli pasta 
200 g pineapple

Mango and curry dressing:

100 g mayo
200 g Greek yogurt or crème fraîche
1 small baby food jar (125 g) of mango puré
1 generous tsp curry powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp mustard (not Dijon, something sweeter)
1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
salt, white pepper

Cook pasta and drain. Combine with chicken and pineapple, both cut into similar sized chunks. 

Combine the ingredients for the dressing and fold into the salad. 

Serve. Either warm, at room temperature or cold.

Our wine pairing for this was something we'd probably never tried before: A South African white that wasn't Chenin Blanc!

Bellingham The Bernard Series Whole Bunch Grenache Blanc Viognier is a blend of white version of soft-on-the-palate and full of berry-notes Grenache, popular in Spain (where it's called Garnacha) and Viognier.

You can smell the 6 months of French oak barrels in the bouquet, which has even cinnamon-like warm spiciness and promises of a dry wine. The taste is (surprisingly) fresh and balanced mix of mineral acidity and variety of fruity tones. The oakiness and acidity both balance the creaminess of the pasta salad while the fruity elements compliment the sweetness of mango and fruitiness of the pineapple.

The Bernard series is a tribute to the crazy creative spirit of the winery's founder, Bernard Podlashuk and comprises of interesting, more complex wines. Definitely worth a try!

And of course we had some fizz, too. Though this year we skipped Champagne and donated the money to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.

Instead we went for Jaume Serra; excellent value for money. It has a special place in our hearts already because it was the bubbly we celebrated our first kiss with 

This cava is made with the traditional Champagne method with 12 months fermentation in the bottle. It's made using the three grapes most commonly used for cava in Catalonia, where majority of the cavas are made: Xarel.lo, Parellada and Macabeo.

It's got body, balanced acidity, charming toastiness and bright citrus notes that make this an easy bubbly to combine with food, too.  Try with seafood and salads with fish.

Tomorrow we'll continue our tour of Latvia, so meet you back here in the morning, ok?





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