:: This salad is inspired from a similar dish I had last month at Vans in Cottesloe.
Vans is a bustling cafe bistro which has become something of a local institution, serving delicious seasonal fare along with many old favourites (their soufflé egg white omelette with roasted field mushrooms and goat’s cheese on toasted sourdough has long been top of my breakfast pick list).
While chicken’s never normally something I gravitate towards, it’s perfect for this salad because it acts like a canvas, taking on the bright flavours of the other ingredients. It’s really more of an assembly job than a cookery exercise – a fresh spring salad that’s so simple to prepare.
2 x chicken breasts
1L chicken stock
1 x bunch of asparagus
3 tbsp dried cranberries
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
120g chèvre (goat’s cheese)
a few handfuls of rocket
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp of the best extra virgin olive oil
Pour the stock into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.
Place the chicken carefully into the stock and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 15 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove, cut into centimeter slices and set aside until needed.
Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the cranberries to rehydrate them. Drain and set aside.
Snap the asparagus stalks at the natural breaking point to remove the woody ends and cut into two centimeter pieces.
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and toss in the asparagus. Blanch very briefly so you don’t lose all their crunch, drain and refresh under cold water.
Assemble the salad by layering your ingredients on a platter. Start by spreading half the rocket leaves as a base, top with torn chicken slices, half the asparagus, cranberries, crumbled chèvre and hazelnuts. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.
Whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar together until emulsified and drizzle over the salad.