A salad is always a great option for a meal, especially in the summer—plus it’s the perfect answer to a weeknight meal or the main course of a casual dinner party. If your usual repertoire of salads could use a little mixing up, here is an idea to turn everyday chicken salad into a sumptuous and tantalizing meal-in-one dish by adding garnishes such as grapes and mangoes, and dressing the salad in a vibrant curry-ginger yogurt sauce. This recipe by cookbook author Nina Simonds, which appeared in Real Food, is served on a bed of toasted couscous to round out the meal.
Curry Chicken and Mango Salad with Couscous
Makes 6 Servings
3 slices fresh ginger about the size of a quarter, smashed lightly with flat side of a knife
3 tbsp. rice wine or sake
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 11⁄4 lb.), fat removed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
1⁄2 tsp. dried red chili flakes (optional)
1 tsp. salt
11⁄2 c. whole-wheat or plain couscous
4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
3⁄4 lb. red seedless grapes
1 large ripe mango (about 11⁄4 lb.), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1⁄4-inch dice
1⁄2 c. minced scallion greens
1 head romaine lettuce, with outer leaves removed
11⁄2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint or cilantro
2 tsp. high-quality curry powder, such as Madras
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger (about 2 tbsp.), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 c. plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1⁄2 lemon)
For the salad: Bring 1 quart water, ginger, and rice wine to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add chicken, partially cover, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 12 minutes, until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken and let cool, reserving broth for couscous and dressing.
To prepare couscous, heat oil in a medium saucepan about 20 seconds, until very hot. Add cumin and chili flakes, and sauteÌ over medium-high heat about 15 seconds, until fragrant. Add 11⁄2 cups reserved chicken broth and salt, cover, and heat until boiling. Add couscous, stir, and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes, then stir with a fork to separate grains. Cover and set aside.
While couscous is cooking, prepare dressing: Toast curry powder in a dry frying pan 3 to 4 minutes, stirring over medium-high heat, until fragrant. Drop ginger and garlic down feed tube of a food processor fitted with a steel blade with motor running. Pulse until finely chopped. Add curry powder, yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 1⁄2 cup reserved chicken broth. Process until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Slice chicken or cut into 1⁄2-inch dice and place in a bowl. Add celery, grapes, mango, and scallions, adding enough dressing to coat. Mix lightly to coat evenly. Or, serve on side.
Trim stem end from lettuce leaves and julienne. Spoon couscous into a large, shallow serving bowl, shaping a small hole in center for chicken. Sprinkle lettuce around edge. Spoon curry chicken salad in center over lettuce and sprinkle chopped herb on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled with remaining dressing on the side.
Note: If you prefer to pan-sear chicken add ginger at that time and rice wine or sake toward end of cooking. Use store-bought chicken broth or water to prepare couscous per package instructions.
Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 469 (69 From Fat); Fat 8g (Sat. 2g); Chol 65mg; Sodium 908mg; Carb 62g; Fiber 9g; Protein 38g