Warm salad of roast chicken, lentils and zucchini
The weather has cooled down. Last week, I had planned on going to the beach Thursday morning with Gracie and some friends but when I went for my early morning surf, a nippy westerly was blowing and the sky was gray, making me opt for a coffee catch up and a day spent inside cooking. I secretly like days like that as it means I am able to potter around the house without feeling like I am missing out on enjoying the great outdoors.
As I was sitting with my friend enjoying my coffee, the smells coming from the Roadhouse’s kitchen got me thinking about what I’d make for lunch. I decided to try and recreate a yummy lentil and chicken salad I’d had at another great Byron café, Bayleaf, a few months ago. I had the left over roast chook in the fridge and the rest of ingredients came from our garden, the pantry and from the farmers’ market I’d been to that very morning. Most importantly, as this recipe requires a decent amount of cooking, I had the time… well… kind of… I had to stop and start a lot to give Gracie the attention she needed. However, the good thing about this recipe is that because there are a few different elements, it is possible to stop and start, and do things in stages, without ruining the dish or getting too stressed! The final step simply requires the tossing of the pre-cooked ingredients together in a skillet with a warm dressing before serving with some freshly chopped parsley and a simple lemon and oil dressing. It would make a great weekend lunch – not too heavy, but warming and filling… and, of course, healthy!
A word on lentils…I used organic black lentils in this dish. You could also use whole red lentils (not the split red lentils as they are not the right consistency when cooked – too mushy!) or French Puy lentils. These types of lentils hold their shape when cooked and are perfect for salads. Lentils are a type of legume and legumes contain carbohydrates and protein, as well as loads of dietary fibre, non-haem iron, copper, folate and phosphorous. This makes this salad a highly nutritious meal in itself and it is really quite filling. The vitamin C from the tomatoes and lemon cheek is important as this helps our bodies to absorb the non-haem iron in the lentils. Lentils are a food that many people would benefit from including more of in their diets. This meal is a delicious way to achieve that!
Warm roast chicken, lentil and zucchini salad
Preparation & cooking time: approximately 45 minutes
2/3 cup organic black lentils
2 cups water (plus more as needed)
2 sprigs thyme
5 parsley stalks
3 pinches chilli flakes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
dash red wine vinegar
flaked sea salt and cracked pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 15 cm zucchini, sliced thinly lengthways
8 cherry tomatoes
200-240 g shredded roast chicken
handful finely chopped parsley
handful of roughly chopped mint leaves
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lemon wedges
- Pick over and rinse lentils under cold water. Bring lentils, water, thyme, parsley stalks and chilli flakes to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until lentils are tender (they should not be hard, but not yet falling apart). You may need to add more water. Drain off excess water when cooked and discard stem of thymes and parsley stalks. Set aside to cool.
- Heat a char grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush succhini and cherry tomatoes with olive oil and grill, turning when grill marks appear. Cook until soft. Allow tomato skins will blister a little.
- Make lemon and oil dressing by combining lemon juice and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and season to taste. Shake well to combine.
- In a medium skillet, heat a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and gently toss lentils, vegetables and tomatoes until warm. If it sticks at all, simply add a tbsp of hot water. Add vinegar, chopped parsley and mint, salt, pepper, and dressing and toss to combine. Divide into two bowls and serve with a wedge of lemon.