Here is a wonderfully different salad to please Dad's palate this Father's Day. In fact, it is my favorite salad, featuring a unique combination of tastes, temperatures and textures. I first had a salad similar to this in Paris several years ago and was so intrigued with it that on my return I started experimenting with my own version. It works both as an entree when served with poultry or meat or as an appetizer served in smaller portions without the meat.
I use several techniques, or "secrets," to make this salad seem more decadent than it really is. First, by toasting the walnuts before putting them on the salad, I can achieve the maximum nutty flavor and crunch per bite without loading up on calories. At almost 50 calories per tablespoon, that makes quite a difference.
The second trick to fool your taste buds is to use a flavorful oil in the dressing, so you can use less of it. In this case, because I wanted a nutty flavor and have walnuts as part of the salad ingredients, I used walnut oil so that the flavors are greatly enhanced without having to drown the salad in dressing.
The greens are a truly exciting combination of taste, color and texture. They are more flavorful than ordinary lettuces, so they stand up to the competing flavors of the meat and dressing. And they are a rich combination of purple and dark green, forming a dramatic backdrop for the pale slices of chicken and the white goat cheese.
Ah, the goat cheese. Again, in order to achieve maximum flavor with minimum calories, I top this salad with an intensely flavored cheese. When it melts down into the greens and combines with the flavors of greens, meat, nuts and dressing, your Man of the Day will rave about your culinary expertise and turn your friends green with envy.
BREAST OF CHICKEN SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND WARM MUSHROOM DRESSING
1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
2 heads radicchio
1 1/4 pounds arugula, stems removed (3 cups)
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (4 cups)
3/4 cup Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing
3/4 pound cooked chicken breast, cut into strips and warmed
1/4 pound goat cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
Toast walnuts in 350 degree oven 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully, as nuts burn easily. Set aside.
Reserve 8 radicchio leaves for lining plates. Tear remaining radicchio leaves and arugula into bite-size pieces. Combine radicchio and arugula, mixing well. Combine mushrooms and Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing in skillet and cook until mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes.
Garnish outside edge of each of 4 plates with 2 reserved radicchio leaves. Spread 1 1/2 cups radicchio-arugula mixture in center of each plate. Place 3 ounces warmed chicken breast on top. Sprinkle 1/4 cup goat cheese over chicken. Spoon warm mushrooms and dressing over top. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon toasted walnuts over each salad. Makes 4 servings.
Each Serving Contains Approximately: Calories: 315 Fat: 17 grams Cholesterol: 85 mg . Sodium: 470 mg . Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crushed in mortar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Combine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard, lemon juice, tarragon, water and oil, mixing well. Refrigerate in container with tight-fitting lid. Dressing will keep for months. Makes 2 cups.
2 Tablespoons Contain Approximately: Calories: 5 Fat: Negligible Cholesterol: 0 mg. Sodium: 85 mg.