I’m not one for dry January or any of that clean eating craic, but even I crave a lighter dinner once in a while. One of my favourite salads to make midweek is my Warm Chicken and Bacon Salad. Let’s face it though, there is nothing light about it. In a bid to come up with something lighter but just as tasty I came up with this Smoked Paprika Chicken Salad. All of my guinea pigs gave it enthusiastic thumbs up.
The smoked paprika makes up for the lack of bacon. It tastes very more-ish and full of flavour. I like to marinate the chicken in the paprika paste for a couple of hours or even overnight, but if you are pushed for time just marinate the chicken while you are prepping the rest of the salad. There will still be plenty of flavour. Serve the chicken hot with the salad or if you want to make it in advance it tastes great cold too.
Useful tips & links:
- Make sure you use smoked paprika for this, it really makes such a difference. Sweet paprika won’t have the same flavour. If you do not have hot paprika, substitute a pinch of cayenne pepper or red chilli powder instead.
- Feel free to play around with the ingredients you use in the salad. I would urge you to keep the roasted red peppers though, as the sweetness really complements the smoky chicken and creaminess of the dressing.
- The dressing is a ranch style dressing, you could make a lemon vinaigrette if you are looking for a lighter option.
- I added simple croutons to bulk this up and add crunch, using the same method from this Caesar Salad recipe. The croutons can be made ahead while you have something else in the oven and then stored in an airtight container for a couple of days. You could also add some toasted nuts or seeds for texture instead.
- To cook the chicken breasts quickly and therefore keep them nice and juicy, I butterfly them. You can ask your butcher to do this for you or simply slice them in half or pound them with a mallet until thin and even.
- I cook enough chicken to have leftovers so while we make this for just two for dinner, there is enough to take for lunch the next day. The chicken, peppers and dressing with a little spinach make a delicious filling for a sandwich or wrap.
- For another light chicken salad have a look at this Grape Chicken Salad with Toasted Walnuts from Indy Power.
Smoked Paprika Chicken Salad
Serves 2, with leftover chicken and dressing
- 4 chicken breasts, butterflied
- 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- The juice of one lemon
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
For the dressing and salad
- 3 tablespoons of sour cream
- 1½ tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1½ tablespoons of chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
- A pinch of smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp of Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Salad leaves of your choice
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- ½ a red onion, finely sliced
- 1 roasted red pepper, diced
- Cucumber, cored de-seeded and diced.
- Croutons (optional)
- Start by marinating the chicken. Put the chicken into a ziploc bag and then mix the paprikas, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper together into a paste. Pour this over the chicken, seal the bag and give it a good shake so that all of the chicken is coated with the marinade. Put the chicken into the fridge for a few hours or overnight or if you don’t have the time, allow it to stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge to bring it up to room temperature. Then you need to make your dressing. For this, put the sour cream and mayonnaise into a bowl and give them a good mix to combine. Add the finely chopped herbs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and paprika. Give it another mix and taste it. Add some milk if you want to thin the dressing a little and then season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Heat a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. You want to cook the chicken quite quickly so that it doesn’t dry out. Cook the chicken for about three minutes on each side or until it is cooked through. If you are unsure, cut into the thickest part to make sure there is no pink left. It doesn’t matter for presentation as you will be slicing the chicken anyway. When it is cooked allow it to rest for a couple of minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking assemble the rest of your salad. Divide some salad leaves between 2 plates and top with the tomatoes, red onions, pepper and cucumber.
- Slice the rested chicken and divide between the plates. Spoon over a little of the dressing and top with the croutons.