For a creative chicken salad, we were inspired by the flavors of Morocco: apricots, lemon and warm spices.
To give our dressing complex flavor, we reached for garam masala, a traditional spice blend of coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. We also added a little more coriander, honey and smoked paprika for depth.
Blooming the spices in the microwave deepened their flavors for an even bolder dressing. Chickpeas further echoed the Moroccan theme and lent heartiness, and crisp romaine combined with slightly bitter watercress made the perfect bed of greens.
Reserving a bit of the dressing to drizzle on just before serving made the flavors pop.
MOROCCAN CHICKEN SALAD WITH APRICOTS AND ALMONDS
By America’s Test Kitchen
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
- 3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped coarse
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 ounces (4 cups) watercress
- 1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
- >> Dressing:
- 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Pinch smoked paprika
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high until just smoking. Brown chicken well on first side, 6 to 8 minutes.
Flip chicken, add water; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook 5 to 7 minutes, until chicken is done.
Transfer to cutting board, let cool slightly, then slice 1/2 inch thick on bias. Let cool to room temperature, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make dressing: Microwave 1 tablespoon oil, garam masala, coriander and paprika in bowl until oil is hot and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Whisk in 3 tablespoons lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining oil.
In large bowl, combine cooled chicken, chickpeas, apricots, shallot, parsley and half of dressing; toss to coat. Let sit 15 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to merge.
Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into remaining dressing.
Toss romaine, watercress and almonds together in serving bowl, drizzle remaining dressing over top; toss to combine.
Season with salt and pepper if needed. Top with chicken mixture. Serves 4 to 6.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 588 calories, 38 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 83 mg cholesterol, 364 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 32 g protein.