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Chicken Salad with Red Grapefruit, Pomegranate & Cashews

August 8, 2015

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Summer is always a bit like a weather roller coaster ride in UK. Three or four weeks ago we were slathering on the suncream and shops were selling out of electric fans, then a few days later I was digging out my winter boots and a warm jacket. Today has gone back to summer. The temperature has been in the high twenties; I did actually put a bit of suncream on and I decided a nice summery salad would be great for supper.

The idea isn’t entirely mine. I saw a salad in a photo the other day but there was no description so I tried to work out what it was. I think they’d used duck but I had chicken portions in my freezer so it was easier to take out a chicken leg. Then I decided on a red grapefruit instead of orange … but hey … I’m only trying to say the seed of the idea came from a photo I came across and then here’s how I cultivated it.

Chicken goes with citrus fruit so well but I liked the idea of the sweet tartness of the grapefruit; a bit like Goldilocks – neither too sweet nor too sour but somewhere in-between. I used to be lazy and buy salad bags a lot but recently have taken to buying two or three salad leaves I like and then putting them together at the last moment. It’s always much fresher that way and the salad leaves last longer. For this salad I chose sweet pea shoots and a fiery, peppery rocket. Keeping with the opposing forces of sweet and sour – or sweet and peppery – I decided to put some pomegranate molasses in the dressing. Pomegranate molasses – which isn’t molasses at all but more a syrup – has a sweetness nicely matched by a sour edge. Finally, I’d pan roast some cashew nuts to add too.

First of all I got the chicken piece in the oven. (You could of course use leftover roast chicken, if you have some.) I roasted it quite simply with just a coating of olive oil, some seasoning of sea salt and black pepper, and a fine dusting of sumac. Sumac is such a wonderful citrusy spice and brings a real Middle Eastern touch to the dish along with the pomegranate molasses.

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I roasted it for about 40 minutes (but it will depend on size of your piece of chicken), basting a couple of times, in a moderate (220C/180 Fan) oven. Then I took it out and allowed to cool a little while I made the salad. I wanted to serve the chicken slightly warm but of course cold is OK too.

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I cut a pomegranate in half.

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I only needed a half for one salad portion so covered the other half in cling film to store in my fridge. I tapped out some of the pomegranate seeds and reserved. Then I squeezed the juice from the rest into a bowl. To this I added about an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses and some seasoning.

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I whisked it all together and then checked the taste. I adjusted it to what I was looking for but these measurements are only a guide. Taste and get it right for you. Then it was time to attack the grapefruit! I cut the ends off, stood the grapefruit on one end, and then with a sharp knife cut away the skin and pith.

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Then I carefully cut the segments free of the membrane.

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I pan roasted a handful of cashew nuts till browning slightly. Then I was almost ready to go.

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I decided to dress the salad leaves before adding the other ingredients so they were nicely coated. I didn’t need all I’d made, but make sure you save a little for the end.

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Then I put them in a shallow dish. I cut the cooled chicken into small pieces and lay on top of the salad leaves; a nice clump in the middle. I lay the grapefruit pieces round the edge of the chicken, sprinkled over the cashews and pomegranate seeds, and then finally finished it off by spooning a little more of the dressing over the top.

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I’d put a little bit of effort into making a special salad and it was definitely worthwhile. I loved the freshness of it all, especially being able to sit in my garden in the warm evening air to enjoy it. I also loved the contrasting sweet and sour flavours that came from the different ingredients. And didn’t it look pretty too!

6 Comments
  1. That looks like a wonderful salad. I have not seen pomegranates, we get them in the fall. I do have some pomegranate molasses and I think it is a splendid idea to add it to the salad dressing.

    • Thank you Gerlinde. I love pomegranates. They seem to be available here most of the year but I guess they are flown in to us. Although remarkably there is a pomegranate tree in the centre of Richmond which is in flower the moment. Such a surprise to see it there. It’s in the garden of some cottages that lie just behind the high street.

  2. The grapefruit and pomegranate give this such vibrancy!

  3. This looks wonderful! I love the grapefruit and chicken combination! Glad your weather is better now.

    • Thank you, Mimi! I’m eating a lot of red/pink grapefruits at the moment. I love that they’re more sweet than an ordinary grapefruit but not as sweet as an orange. And it went really well with the chicken 🙂

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