Thursday, April 3, 2008

Italian Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups (12 servings)

This recipe is from Everyday Italian and we LOVE it! It's a great dish for warm weather summery parties! I've served it a couple of times when I've hosted bunco, and I've also brought it to friends after they've had a baby or surgery (not the full recipe!). Our kiddies have just started to enjoy eating it all. Before they appreciated all the flavors, I just took one of the chicken breasts and sliced it up for them to eat. Ooh, I'm getting hungry for it right now!

Here's the original recipe. Thank you, Giada! Since I've made VERY minor changes (fewer capers, more honey, etc.) to the recipe, I added the modifications in the recipe below. It's the only way I'll remember how to make it again next time!

10 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (about 3 good-sized rotissiere chickens)
2 cups roasted red and yellow bell peppers, drained, patted dry, and coarsely chopped
1-1/4 cup paper-thin slices red onion
¾ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
¾ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼-1/3 cup capers, drained
1-1/2 cup (about) Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 butter lettuce leaves (from about 3 large heads) or bib lettuce—whatever is more economical, I’ve started just serving over torn Romaine lettuce.
1 (4 oz.) pkg. shaved Parmesan cheese (you can get this next to the regular grated)

Toss the chicken, bell peppers, onion, parsley, almonds, and capers in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Season the chicken salad with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange 1 large lettuce cup and 1 small lettuce cup on each plate, overlapping slightly. Spoon the chicken salad into the lettuce cups. Drizzle more vinaigrette over the salads. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

Do-ahead tip: The chicken salad can be prepared 4 hours ahead and refrigerated. Just before serving, spoon the salad into the lettuce cups.

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
1 TBSP honey
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the oil and blend until emulsified. (I just make this dressing using my dressing plunger instead of a processor. You can also just shake it in a large jar with a lid). Shake well again before adding to salad.

NOTES: I use three rotisserie chickens from Costco (they are 3 lbs. instead of 2 lbs. like the grocery store chickens…and they’re a lot less expensive).