Tag Archives: cucumbers

Greek chicken tostada

Greek chicken tostada

The idea for this salad came from a (very Mexican) tostada I had for lunch recently at the Huntington Library and Gardens near Pasadena. Most tostadas top the tortillas with the standard refried beans made with pinto beans. This tostada used black beans instead, making it distinctive and very good.

This got me thinking about whether some other types of beans might also be used to make a tostada. How about garbonzo beans/chickpeas? And you can buy this with the beans already mashed up and seasoned, ready to use: hummus.

Once I decided to make a tostada with hummus, an Eastern Mediterranean theme was obvious. I chose Greek, with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, but I wanted something else. Since I was already using one dip from that part of the world, I thought about tzatziki, the Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce/dip, which I really like. But it didn’t seem to be quite right putting dollops of tzatziki on the tostada. Instead, I put cucumber pieces on the salad and made a dressing based on the ingredients in tzatziki.

I started the dressing with my standard vinaigrette ingredients of 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, to which I added 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. This produces a slightly thickened dressing that you might call a tzatziki vinaigrette and would be one option. I decided I wanted a thicker, creamier dressing more like tzatziki and added a third tablespoon of yogurt and then a fourth. My suggestion is to proceed in this way, stopping when you get a consistency that you like.

I think the key to this salad is moderation and balance. You don’t want too much of any one ingredient such that it dominates.

Greek chicken tostada

4- or 5-ounce piece of chicken breast
2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
hummus
spinach, chopped
1 cup (or so) cucumber, in small pieces
Kalamata olives, cut in half
feta cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 to 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill

Bake the chicken breast in advance. When cool, pull it apart to make shredded chicken.

So the dressing can be well chilled, an hour or so before serving, mix the olive oil, lemon juice garlic, dill, and the yogurt. Start with 2 tablespoons yogurt and whisk everthing together to see the consistency. If desired, add more yogurt to get your preferred consistency. Refrigerate the dressing, as it should be well-chilled before serving.

Going in the other direction on temperature, I think the hummus and chicken, which will top the cooked tortillas, should be closer to room temperature, so take them out of the refrigerator an hour or so before making the salad.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of hummus. Add the shredded chicken, then the chopped spinach, and on top of that the cucumber pieces.

Whisk the previously made dressing and spoon on top the salad. Top with a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese and the Kalamata olives.

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Chicken adobo salad

Chicken adobo salad

Chicken adobo is often called the national dish of the Phillipines. The chicken is cooked with soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. I thought this would be good for a salad.

The first recipe I found when looking for ideas online said that a distinctive aspect of adobo chicken is that the chicken is cooked in the liquid first and then browned at the end. This is just the opposite of many dishes such as chicken fricasee and coq au vin where the chicken is browned first. But other recipes did have you browning the chicken first, and still others didn’t brown at all. I decided to cook in the liquid and then finish with a quick browning under the broiler.

Then came the the question of what to do with the rest of the salad. I know nothing about Filipino cuisine, so back to Google for ideas. I found recipes for just about any kind of salad, many using familiar ingredients. I saw several recipes that combined cucumbers and carrots, both in a straight cucumber salad (with red onions) and in a slaw, with cabbage. I thought these would go well.

Vinegar is a primary ingredient for the dressings for some cucumber salads, so having the cucumber with the adobo chicken with the vinegar was a good choice. To emphasize the vinegar on the salad, I altered the proportions for my dressing, using equal amounts of oil and the soy-vinegar mixture from the chicken.

Chicken adobo salad

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
5–6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
fresh ground pepper

spring mix lettuce and spinach
cucumber, sliced thin
carrots, sliced thin
red onion, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Put the chicken thighs in a pan with the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken over once about half way through.

Remove the chicken thighs. Place them under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to brown. Then let them rest a few minutes before slicing.

Take 2 tablespoons of the soy-vinegar cooking liquid and combine with the oil for the dressing. Boil the remainder of the liquid down by at least half, until it starts to thicken, to concentrate the sauce for spooning over the chicken.

Arrange the cucumber, carrots, and onions on the lettuce and spinach. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil and soy-vinegar mixture. Spoon the dressing over the salad.

Slice the chicken. Place in the middle of the salad. Spoon the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken.