Ah January! The month of detoxing, low fat everything and diet diet diet! Now I’m fully on board for this with you all, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a lacklustre salad… limp soggy leaves with a boring selection of veg does nothing for me. If I’m going to have a salad it’s got to have some punch about it, big flavours, contrasting textures and unusual pairing.
This salad is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. Now Mr Oliver gets a lot of stick but I have to say I do have a bit of a weak spot for him! I think it’s his enthusiasm about every ingredient ever made. He seems to get a lot of grief for a lot of the things he does but personally, however he goes about it, I don’t think you can really argue with his ethos of trying to encourage people to eat better whatever their budget.
It’s something I and I imagine every other food blogger feels really strongly about – The benefits of home cooking vs pre packaged food. I’ve reached a point now where I genuinely couldn’t go back to not cooking everything from scratch and I totally agree with Jamie that it doesn’t need to be expensive to do so. Plus whatever else you say about him the boy knows how to put together a recipe! Particularly salads, I would say about 90% of the salad recipes in my repertoire originate somewhere along the way with Jamie. Am I ashamed of that… not a bit 🙂
This is a seriously bold and very satisfying salad. The bulgar wheat base is spicy and fragrant with fresh herbs, the chicken is moist and packed with flavour and the unusual combination of textures and flavours in the various toppings works together soooo well. The bulgar wheat uses fresh coriander which I know is one of those love it or hate it ingredients! You could easily substitute fresh parsley if you preferred and it would work just as well.
Although the salad is adapted from Jamie the blackened chicken recipe comes from The Café Sucre Farine – It’s a beautiful recipe from a beautiful blog that has become one of my favourites over the years I’ve been reading it. The chicken is now my absolute fall back recipe for blackened chicken – perfect for all sorts of salads and mains.
For the toppings you can certainly chop and change with what you’ve got. The mango is delicious but you could definitely use something else if it’s out of season – peach or papaya would work well. I usually use avocado but as mine refused to ripen this week I changed it for cucumber and didn’t miss the avocado, the same with the cheese, feel free to change it up. I’m sure you get the idea, chop and change as required. Don’t worry too much about measurements and amounts either, just whack it in! As long as the base and chicken is there along with the yogurt it will work!
Blackened Chicken with Herby Bulgar Wheat Salad (Serves 2):
For the Blackened Chicken:
2 Medium Chicken Breasts
2 Tsp Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Hot Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
Flatten the chicken breasts by bashing them with a rolling pin to about a half inch thickness. Mix together all the dried spices and herbs and spread the mix on a plate. Coat the chicken evenly on both sides.
Heat a frying pan on a high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the pan is nice and hot add your chicken. Keep turning the chicken every few minutes for about 10 minutes all together. Keep an eye on the heat as you want the chicken to blacken in places but not to burn it too much (it’s a fine line!) just keep turning it turn the heat down a little if you think it’s going to burn before it’s cooked through. Check it is cooked through before setting aside to slice up and serve with the salad!
For The Salad:
150g Bulgar Wheat
300ml Chicken Stock
100g Baby Spinach
Small Handful Fresh Coriander
Small Handful Fresh Mint
1 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Fresh Chilli
25g Feta Cheese
1 Small Ripe Mango – diced
1 Punnet of Cress
4 Tbsp Natural Yoghurt
1 Avocado (or 1/2 Cucumber) – diced
Put your bulgar wheat and chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Season well and turn the heat down – simmer for about 10-12 minutes until softened but with just a little bite left, all of the liquid should be absorbed (you may need to add a little more water if the pan gets too dry while cooking).
Meanwhile in a small food processor pulse together half the baby spinach, half the chilli and the coriander and mint until broken down and well combined. Mix the herb mix with your cooked bulgar wheat along with the lime juice and a good lug of olive oil and spoon this over the base of your plates.
Scatter over the avocado, mango, feta, and slice the remaining half of chilli and scatter this over. Add the remaining spinach onto the top then arrange strips of your blackened chicken around the plate -dollop over the natural yoghurt and sprinkle on the cress. DIG IN and never look at a salad in the same way!