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Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Green Bean Salad

Sherry vinegar has a sweet floral essence that makes a delicious salad dressing. The dressing is also used to glaze the strips of boneless chicken breasts as they quickly cook in a hot frying pan. High in protein and low in saturated fat, this main-course salad is as satisfying as it is healthful.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large red bell peppers, about 1 lb. total
  • 1 tsp. olive oil  
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 lb. green beans such as Blue Lake, trimmed 
  • Ice water 
  •   

For the sherry-thyme vinaigrette: 

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 3 Tbs. sherry vinegar 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme  
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt  
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  •   
  • 1 tsp. olive oil 
  • 3/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips 1 inch wide  
  • 10 oz. mixed baby salad greens (about 8 cups loosely packed) 
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion 
  • 2 celery stalks, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Cut the bell peppers lengthwise into strips about 1 inch wide. Remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Arrange the peppers in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and season lightly with salt and a grind of pepper. Roast, turning once, until the edges are charred and the skins are blistered, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, then peel away any loosened skins. Set aside.

Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil, add the green beans and boil until tender, 5 to 7 minutes; the timing will depend on their size. Drain and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside.

To make the sherry-thyme vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, garlic, salt and a grind of pepper until blended.

Brush a large, nonstick fry pan with the olive oil. Place over medium heat and heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle and then immediately evaporate. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces, whisk the vinaigrette to combine, and drizzle 2 Tbs. of the vinaigrette on the chicken. Continue to cook for 2 minutes; the chicken should be opaque throughout. Turn the chicken to coat it well with the vinaigrette and remove the pan from the heat. Let the chicken stand in the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the salad greens and 1 Tbs. of the vinaigrette. Toss to coat the greens. Spread the greens in a layer on a large platter. In the same bowl, combine the roasted bell peppers, green beans, cooked chicken and any pan juices, onion, celery and remaining vinaigrette. Toss to mix. Spoon on top of the greens and serve. Serves 4 as a main course.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).