Last year, we went to Ava Gene’s here in Portland and had an amazing kale salad with parmesan and crunchy bread crumbs tossed in. The dressing was a bright lemon-olive oil blend that sang in our mouths. We had to have more of it. So we figured out how to make it. And we haven’t stopped.
Far be it from us to be Salad Stealers, we wondered how we could make this lemon-kale goodness our own. We asked ourselves, what loves lemon as much as kale seems to? Chicken was first on our mind. I mean, lemon chicken, am I right? Then, the aromatic lovers we are thought we’d throw some rosemary in the dressing to really freshen it up.
After a few failed experiments (one involving using schmaltz as the base of the dressing), we ended up with a fresh, herby, tart, and savory synthesis of flavor in our mouths. The salad can stand up on its own, but perfectly seared chicken makes it all the better. We hope you love this simple, yet mouth-watering recipe as much as we do.
Lemon Chicken Power Salad:
- ½ lb. boneless chicken breast
- 1 bunch leafy kale, shredded
- ½ bunch parsley, sheared and roughly chopped (stems are OK)
- 1 small shallot, shaved to 1/32" (or very thinly sliced)
- 1 small fennel bulb (sometimes sold as anise), shaved to 1/32" (or very thinly sliced)
- 2 tbs. fennel leaves, finely chopped
- 1½ cups of good bread, cubed into 1" pieces
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra to finish
- Juice of ½ large lemon
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 6-inch stalk rosemary, leaves removed and minced
- Reserved meat juices
- Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
Prepare the salad. Toss kale, parsley, shallot, fennel bulb and leaves in a large bowl. Set aside.
Put oil, garlic, and rosemary in a small microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30 seconds to do a quick infusion of your aromatics into the oil. Afterwards, place the mixture in a small high-speed blender with the lemon juice and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Fillet the chicken breasts, or use a meat tenderizer to make sure the meat is a uniform thickness. Coat chicken in salt and fresh-ground pepper. You want a nice crisp salty crust when you’re done with this, so put more on than you think you need. Coat a cast iron skillet with oil or butter and heat over medium high heat until the oil shimmers, but doesn’t smoke. Place chicken in hot skillet salt-and-pepper side down. Then cover the other side with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat turns a deep golden brown. Flip and reduce heat slightly. Cook through until a meat thermometer reads 160°F (71°C). Let chicken rest 10 minutes before cutting it into bite-sized slices.
While the meat rests, take the bread cubes and fry them up in the chicken drippings along with some olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the croutons while cooking and toss until golden brown. Remove croutons from pan and let cool while slicing the chicken. Reserve juices from the chicken and add them to the dressing.
Add the Parmesan and the dressing to the salad and toss. Serve in a large bowl with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese on top along with the seared chicken.