There are weeks when I think I could subsist entirely on oatmeal, grilled cheese, pizza, and pasta. Despite nightmares of leafy greens coming to attack me just so I’ll take a bite of something with nutrients, I’m not unhappy with this diet. Until I remember: this is no way for a grown-up to live.
Grown-ups eat vegetables. Especially grown-ups like me who actually like vegetables.
Usually, when I’ve had one of those bread-and-cheesy weeks, it’s out of laziness. Vegetables can take a little longer to prepare: washing, drying, cutting. What a slog, I think from my pizza haze. The real nightmare in that case is the head of washed Swiss chard splashing around my kitchen, leaving puddles on my countertop as it begs me to eat it.
And so this–an amazing, healthful, fresh, tasty, unusual chopped salad–is a salad for lazy people. It’s good for you, and yet almost all of its vegetables come from cans or the freezer. Which is amazing if you ever need a healthful meal when you’ve gotten back from vacation or haven’t shopped in a while. Grab some avocado, bake (or buy) some roasted chicken, and go.
This recipe was featured in The Splendid Table’s weekly recipe newsletter, which I highly recommend. The original recipe, by Patricia Jinch (whose book I’ve now got to get my hands on), didn’t use chicken, which means this could easily go vegetarian if you like. Top with sunflower or pumpkin seeds in that case.
P.S. As per the above nightmare: How to stay healthy when you’re a food lover.
If you make the chicken in advance, this salad takes minutes to throw together. (And, if you are making the chicken in advance, throw in a couple more pieces to have later in the week.) In season, you could certainly use fresh corn cut from the cob.
For the Salad
1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
Salt and pepper
One 14-ounce can hearts of palm, cut into chunks (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed under running water and drained
3 roasted red peppers, washed well and drained, then cut into bite-sized pieces
2 ripe avocados, cut in half, pit removed, cut in a cross hatch then scooped out
Cilantro for garnish
For the Vinaigrette
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice (about half a lime)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon oregano
1 scallion, white and light green parts, sliced
1/2 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wash the chicken and dry it very well with a paper towel. Place it on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the juices from the chicken run clear. Cool completely – at least 1 hour, but you can also store for a couple days in the fridge. (Hint: if you like crispy chicken skin, eat it right away, before you refrigerate.)
Remove the chicken from the bone as neatly as possible. Cut into bite-sized cubes and place them in a large bowl. Add the hearts of palm, corn, red peppers, and avocados.
In a second bowl, make the vinaigrette: whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, and mustard. Slowly drizzle in both oils, whisking as you go so the dressing emulsifies. Add the salt, oregano, scallion, honey, and pepper, and combine.
Pour most of the dressing over the salad and toss gently so you don’t smush the avocado. Serve, garnished with cilantro.