Rojak, French style (aka 101 ways with leftovers, #22)
A little roast chicken goes a long way, especially if you're lucky enough to have your pick of European summer produce. Until an hour ago, the most I had ever done to put together a salad was whisk up a simple vinagrette and drizzle it over a bagful of store-packed salad leaves. Faced with half a leftover roast chicken and a fridgeful of random supermarket purchases, however, today seemed like a good day to experiment.
I am happy to report that the result was extremely encouraging. The salad itself consisted of cold chicken breast, roughly shredded; morsels of gorgonzola cheese, creamy with a blue-veined bite; wedges of juicy allongee tomatoes, crimson with a summer blush; mixed salad leaves, grassy with the occassional kick of bitter rocket; grapefruit pulp, little sacs of citrus tartness; and a scattering of raisins, sweetness concentrated in bursts of textural contrast. Over this went a homemade dressing of red wine shallot vinegar mixed with honey, seeded Dijon mustard and olive oil.
Like a serious sandwich, a good salad strikes me as a contrast of strong flavours, smoothened over by a central theme - in this case, sweet summer fruitiness kept interesting with peekaboo notes of tart and savoury. With flavourful ingredients, a salad needs no more complicated a dressing than a variation on a basic vinagrette. Adhering to these principles, the chicken and gorgonzola salad would make a good base for further experimentation. Fresh grapes insteed of raisins, perhaps, and the additional salty crunch of roasted pinenuts. Springy mozzarella to replace the gorgonzola, or even creamy avocado. The possibilities seem endless.