Citrus Chicken Salad. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: Henri Hollis
Photo: Henri Hollis

January salads go from blah to beautiful with this citrusy recipe

Despite the fact that just about every food-focused website and magazine is showcasing salads right now, January is a strange time of year to eat a salad. It’s cold outside, so you’re likely wanting to consume something warm. In addition, many classic salad ingredients — tender lettuce, juicy tomatoes — aren’t going to be at their best for several more months.

But New Year’s resolutions are certainly not going anywhere, and neither are January salads. Instead of ignoring the trend, try this method for enlivening grocery store staples, as well as for making hearty a meal that would otherwise not be particularly satisfying: plan your salad around the elements of crunch, acidity, sweetness and some kind of herb (and lots of it).

First up: the acidity and sweetness, which you can get from ruby red grapefruits, sliced so that they’re free of pith and peel and ready to add zingy sweetness and a pop of color to the salad. Extract the segments from the membranes over a bowl so that you collect all of their juices, which you’ll whisk with olive oil to make a simple, yet effective, dressing.

Next, into the bowl go pieces of the freshest green leaf lettuce you can find, plus a peeled and chopped cucumber for crunch. Three cups of diced rotisserie chicken meat (or leftovers, if you’ve got ‘em) will bring plenty of substance to the salad, and an entire bunch of mint leaves — no need to chop — add herbaceous brightness.

This dish is mostly just a chop and stir affair, so you’ll likely have time to toast a big loaf of the best bread you can find and serve it with room temperature butter. Just because it’s salad month doesn’t mean you can’t eat bread, too.

Citrus Chicken Salad. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: For the AJC
Recipe: Citrus Chicken Salad
  • 2 ruby red grapefruits
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for the dressing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped skinless rotisserie chicken meat (about half a chicken)
  • 1 small head green or red leaf lettuce, torn or chopped into large bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 small bunch mint, leaves stripped
  • On the side: Warm crusty bread and butter
  • Using a boning knife or sharp paring knife, remove the tops and bottoms from the grapefruits. Set one grapefruit, flat side down, on a cutting board, and, using the knife, slice off the peel and pith, leaving as much as the fruit intact as possible. Repeat with the second grapefruit.
  • Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Holding one of the grapefruits over the strainer, slice along the inside of the internal membranes to remove the grapefruit segments, letting them fall into the strainer. Once all of the segments have been removed, squeeze what remains in your hand to extract the juice through the strainer. Repeat with the remaining grapefruit.
  • Tap the strainer on the edge of the bowl to drain out any additional juice, then set the grapefruit segments aside. Add about equal parts olive oil to the juice in the bowl. Whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chicken, lettuce, cucumber, mint and reserved grapefruit segments to the bowl and toss to coat evenly in the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the bread and butter. Serves 4 to 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 4: 333 calories (percent of calories from fat, 41), 35 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 15 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 360 milligrams sodium.

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