Salad with Chicken, Roasted Grapes and Manchego
Did I tell you I moved? I talk about it all the time on Instagram, but I can’t remember if I mentioned it here. My brain feels mushy. Sooo…
Guess what?!!! I MOVED.
Two weeks ago, my roommate and I packed up all our earthly possessions and relocated (a whole 5 blocks!) to some brand new digs. Just to be Captain Obvious, moving is weird, and hard, and bittersweet. We outgrew our last apartment a while ago, so I was Logan-style psyched for the move, but when the day came to physically pack up and leave? Craziness and emotions alllllll over the place.
First of all, nothing reminds one of her hoarding tendencies quite like packing, and I was forced to ask myself the tough questions. Why do I own so many socks? (I could don a different pair of socks every day for 3 months and still have clean socks, but I only wear socks like once a week?) What do all these cords and remotes do, and where did they come from? Why did all the vitamins and over-the-counter drugs expire in 2014? Do you feel okay? (You took 2014 Advil this morning!) Will peplum tops make a comeback? Should you keep them in case they do even though you look terrible in peplum??!!
Aside from the packing and purging, it’s emotional to leave a space that’s jam-packed with memories. Birthdays, and holidays, and milestones, and Sunday mornings. I wrote The Dude Diet in that apartment. Logan and I became fee-ahn-says and newlyweds there. Most importantly, it’s where I discovered Goop oil and the #lobbyselfie.
‘Twas a good apartment, and it felt equal parts sad and liberating to bid it farewell.
And now I’m sitting here, two weeks post-move, writing this post at my fancy new kitchen island(!!!) and feeling excited. There’s something about a new space that makes it seem like anything is possible, and I’m doing my best to embrace that feeling. This apartment is inspiring so many plans, people! I’m going to take no shit and make moves outside my comfort zone! I’m going to be an organized lady who hangs her pants! I’m gonna get a plant!!!
With all of that said, I’m currently surrounded by boxes, I have no furniture, and at this very moment, there’s a man six feet to my left cutting shelving with a chainsaw. My roommate has been out of town for over a week, and I’m tired and cranky because I need to be hugged regularly I’ve been staying up far past my bedtime looking at couches and dining tables on the Interwebs.
Due to these First World problems, I haven’t been looking to put a ton of time and effort into feeding myself the past two weeks. Enter: smoothies, skillet eggs, and simple (but satisfying) salads with store-bought rotisserie chicken like the one on your screen.
This salad, which is loaded with chicken, roasted grapes, pistachios, and Manchego, was inspired by one that I ate at a restaurant called Mountain Standard in Vail over the holidays. I remember thinking it was the perfect mix of sweet, savory, and bright, and it popped into my head this week when I was craving something healthy and delicious that wouldn’t run me more than 20 minutes. Thank God for small miracles because it was the most delightful #sassydesklunch I’ve had in a while!
The original salad was made with baby gem lettuce that gave it a little crunch, but I subbed some baby green oak leaf (because that’s what I had). You could use either one of those, or a soft lettuce like bibb, Boston, or butter. And when it comes to nuts and cheese, feel free to mix things up. (I think this would be great with almonds or walnuts, and I love the idea of cheddar, Parmesan, or even goat cheese.) The things you don’t want to mess with are the roasted grapes—they get deliciously tender, super sweet, and almost jammy in the oven—and the dressing.
Dear God, the dressing!! It’s got a basil-tinged sweetness, a red wine vinegar tang, and a kick of spice thanks to raw shallot. I threw everything in my Cuisinart miniprep to get the dressing nice and smooth (it has a thin pesto consistency), but you could just as easily mince the shallots and garlic and whisk them with the oil and vinegar if you don’t have a tiny processor/blender. No biggie.
What I love most about this salad is that you can prep everything while the grapes roast and then just toss everything together. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it’s the perfect vehicle for leftover roast chicken, or you can do like I did and use a store-bought bird. Easy.
Make the salad, friends. It’s fresh. Like us in 2018. It’s our year.
Salad with Chicken, Roasted, Grapes and Manchego (Makes 2 large salads)
1 cup seedless red grapes
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 packed cups soft lettuce (such as baby green oak leaf, Boston, bibb, or butter lettuce), roughly torn
1 cup shredded roasted chicken (Light and dark meat are both great.)
1 celery rib, thinly sliced into half moons
¼ cup shaved Manchego cheese
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios
For the dressing:
1 small shallot
6 fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon honey
Freshly ground black pepper
-Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
-Place the grapes on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and a little fresh ground pepper and toss to coat.
-Roast for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time, until the grapes have softened and the skins are lightly browned in spots. Let cool slightly.
-Meanwhile make the dressing. Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small food processor or blender (a Nutribullet or one of those little ninja blenders will do the trick).
-Add a pinch of salt and pepper and process until smooth. (If you don’t have a small processor/blender, you can grate the garlic, mince the shallot, and whisk it with the other ingredients for the dressing except the basil. Simply chop the basil and toss it with the lettuce.)
-Place the lettuce in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken, roasted grapes, and celery, and toss gently to combine. Dive the mixture between to large plates or bowls. Top each salad with cheese and pistachios. Drizzle each salad generously with the desired amount of dressing and serve.
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