Friday, February 12, 2010

Chicken salad with the flavors of Mexico

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This chicken salad was inspired by the purchase of a good-looking jicama!   Firm to the touch and tight-skinned, it was perfect for the taking and going to shine in a Mexican flavored salad I was already composing in my mind.   Delicious raw or cooked, its crunchy white flesh has the texture of a firm pear.  Slightly sweet on the tongue, the flavor hints of apple and pear.   

The jicama (hick-u-ma) is the root of a legume that is related to the potato and is easily found in Texas stores.  In Mexico and further south it is commonly served by street vendors with a little lime juice and a dusting of chili powder.  When cut into wide strips it can be a healthy replacement for chips – a means to scoop up a guacamole or salsa.  In my chicken salad, it adds a mildly sweet crunch and replaces celery handily. 

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Composed mostly of water and very high in fiber and vitamin C, it’s the perfect diet food.  Look for jicama that are hard with tight, dry skins; a flattened ball shape, few bruises and no mold.  Pick the smaller ones (1.5lbs – 2.5lbs) as the larger they get, the higher the chance are of them tasting woody.  

Chicken salad with the flavors of Mexico

Serves 4

The marinade:

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup oil (I used olive oil)

½ teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 chicken breasts

The dressing:

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

The veggies:

1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced; or left raw, seeded and diced

1 4-oz jar pimento peppers, drained

½ red onion, finely chopped

¼ cup green olives, sliced

1 cup jicama, peeled and diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 fresh jalapeno or 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno, chopped, optional – for added spice

1 avocado, peeled and cut into cubes

lettuce leaves or toasted bread for sandwiches

Mix marinade ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Add chicken breasts and marinate for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350F. Transfer chicken to a roasting pan, cover with and roast for 30 minutes or until cooked. Cool and then chop into bite-sized pieces.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.

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Place chicken, poblano pepper, pimento peppers, red onion, green olives, jicama, cilantro and jalapeno (if desired). Add dressing and mix gently with a large spoon. Top with avocado and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves or in a sandwich.

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My friend, Debbie, and I enjoyed ours on a bed of lettuce leaves while my nephew, Jovan, loved his sandwiched between buttermilk bread. 


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