Grilled asparagus & goat cheese salad with smoked chicken

By Michael Bonacini
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What makes this a lovely salad is the combination of warm, grilled asparagus, crisp salad greens and a warm soft-boiled egg. It is the perfect entrée salad for lunch, dinner or brunch. You can change up the smoked chicken for grilled chicken, peppered mackerel, smoked salmon or sliced, seared flank steak. Serve with warm piece of crusty bread – oh the joys of spring!

SERVES
2
TOTAL TIME

Ingredients

  • 12 – 15 fresh asparagus stems
  • 1 Ontario Honeycrisp Apple, quartered & sliced
  • 2 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 cup smoked chicken (breast or leg)
  • 2 soft-boiled eggs
  • Salad greens – arugula, watercress, hearts of Boston lettuce, seedling greens
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • 3 radishes
  • 1/4 cup fresh garden peas
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

For the dressing:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the home-smoked chicken:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken leg (or both)
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 1/4 cup oolong tea (tea leaves)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cherry or Applewood smoking chips
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place all dressing ingredients into a mason jar, screw on lid tightly and give it a good shake. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Take half the asparagus and grill on a BBQ or grill plate. Cut into three pieces and toss into a salad bowl. Pick and wash all the salad greens, add to the salad bowl along with freshly shucked raw peas and the chives.
  3. In a frying pan, fry the diced bacon until crisp and remove from the pan. Shred the chicken and toss into the frying pan with the leftover bacon fat and warm gently.  Add the bacon and chicken to the salad bowl and crumble in the goat cheese.
  4. Take the remaining fresh asparagus and using a Y-shaped peeler, peel the asparagus into ribbons. Add to the salad. Add shaved radish, season and toss gently with some of the vinaigrette.
  5.  Place on a serving dish or platter, break open the soft-boiled eggs and add to the salad. Serve.

For the home smoked chicken:

  1. Line the bottom of a wok with aluminum foil. Mix all dry ingredients and place on top of the aluminum foil inside the wok. Take a cooling rack and place it inside the wok, just above the smoking ingredients.
  2. Place wok over a medium-high heat, and once small smoke vapors appear, place the chicken breast on the cooling rack and cover the wok with a tightly fitting lid. Allow to smoke for six to eight minutes. Check every couple of minutes and turn the chicken at least once.
  3. Smoking this way gives a very light, mild smoke flavor and can be done up to one day ahead.
  4. Remove the chicken from the smoker, season lightly with smoked paprika, salt and freshly ground pepper. Pan-fry the chicken in the bacon fat (from the salad recipe) and fry until lightly golden brown and cooked. Remove, allow to cool. Either shred or chop the chicken to add to the salad.

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