Moroccan Chicken and Carrot Salad

I had to find something to do with a leftover and very boring roasted chicken breast. It was especially boring because just before baking it – and after being quite unable to really change either how I was going to cook it or the cut of meat – I read a really interesting article in Cooks Illustrated on the best way to roast chicken breasts in order to end up with a juicy breast. Oh, bother! So, I decided to fork the chicken breast into small pieces and mix it with a grated carrot and spices for a Moroccan salad. Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp dried cranberries, nuked in 3 Tbsp ruby red grapefruit juice for 45 seconds and allowed to reconstitute for about 10 minutes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • scant 1/8 tsp garlic salt (would have preferred garlic powder and more added salt)
  • dash kosher salt and fairly generous freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
Moroccan Chicken and Carrot Salad atop bright greens

Moroccan Chicken and Carrot Salad atop bright greens

I removed the cranberries from the grapefruit juice and added all but the last two above ingredients to the juice, stirring vigorously. Then I tossed the whole salad together – chicken, carrot, cranberries, zest, scallion, and dressing – then adjusted the seasoning and plated half of it above mesclun greens. Easy lunch! My only regret is that I forgot to add toasted and chopped almonds I’d originally thought about adding, but perhaps it was just as well. Tomorrow when I eat the second half for lunch I can add the almonds for an authentic Moroccan flavor sensation. While the overall taste was initially a tad mild (I might have needed some more salt, or perhaps more ginger), the cumin has a bit of an after-burn that makes up for the slow start-up. The texture is very refreshing, and it looks colorful and appetizing. A winner!

Update: it’s day two for this salad, and I added about 8 toasted and smashed almonds. This addition really increases the depth of flavor of the whole dish and adds interesting texture. The spices have melded together well by now, but I still think it could use a sprinkle more ginger and perhaps even a bit more cumin. Actually, what might bring the best change would be to use freshly squeezed orange juice instead of bottle grapefruit juice, whose flavor doesn’t come through as strongly as I would like it to. I think it brings more sweetness than acidity, the latter of which would provide the “bite” I’m looking for. Great news for the next time I make this!

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