After our trip to Italy I found myself fat and happy, enjoying one delicious meal after another. There was one in particular that stood out to me. It was in Torbole and it was one of the first meals we had. It was a simple salad. Now when you have meats, cheeses, pasta, and pizza to choose from, a salad may sound terribly dull but it's the simplicity and freshness that made this salad stand out. Just simple, quality ingredients. I think we often forget how good food can taste when it's fresh!
The salad I had in Italy was just greens, fennel, mandarin, and chicken. I decided to use some corgettes (zuchinni) because I had some lying around.
Fennel is easy to work with. Just cut stems down to 1". Cut fennel down the middle and slice thinly. See below-
I thinly sliced the corgettes.
Finally I cut the peels off of mandarins and sliced them up. You may just peel but if you want to avoid the stringy pulp it's best to cut them. It also adds additional flavor because some of the juice is exposed to salad.
The dressing on this salad is literally just quality olive oil and REAL Modena Balsamic Vinegar. Real Modena Balsamic is aged in barrels like wine or whisky. The longer it sits the darker and more caramelized it gets. With fake balsamic they just add sugar and boil it down. Real vinegar can cost you a bit more but I am here to tell you.. TOTALLY WORTH IT. We picked this bottle up from a small shop in Torre del Benaco on Lake Garda. You can sample the olive oils and vinegars like wine. You may not think that sounds appealing but until you have tried it you don't really know what you are missing. It's DELICIOUS!
I decided to saute the corgettes and a bit of fennel in some olive oil and vinegar to add a bit more flavor. It tasted fine but in the future I may skip this step and leave everything raw and fresh.
For the chicken I have been using my George Foreman Grill as we don't have access to a legit grill. It definitely gets the job done and is easy to clean but sometimes I feel it can leave the meat a bit more dried out. Especially chicken. So I decided this time to tenderize the chicken before grilling. It certainly worked and will do it going forward. Just butterfly your chicken, cover with plastic wrap, and use a mallet to tenderize.
After grilling up the chicken it's time to throw the salad together. Just layer it up!
Recipe Serves 4
2 large Chicken Breasts
1 Head of Fennel
6 Mini Corgettes or 1 regular Zucchini
8 cups (Spinach, Arugala, Mixed Greens, your choice)
1 TB + 1/4 c Olive Oil
1 TB + 1/4c Balsamic Vinegar
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper
Thinly slice fennel, set aside
Thinly slice corgettes/zucchini, set aside
Slice up mandarins, set aside
Butterfly chicken. Place plastic wrap over top and use mallet to tendorize.
Sprinkly chicken with salt and pepper then grill up. Because it is butterflied it will take less time to grill so watch CLOSELY
(this may be skipped) While chicken is grilling, Heat pan on Medium/High, add 1 TB of Olive Oil and 1 TB Balsamic to pan. Add Corgettes and saute for 5-7 minutes. Until tender but not too soggy
Once chicken is done, allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then cut into slices
Begin assemblying salad
Top off with a bit of quality olive oil and balsamic