Monday, November 30, 2009

Harvest Salad with Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Apple Butter Dressing



Tonight I made a Harvest Salad with Apple Butter Dressing, consisting of greens, discs of goat cheese, red grapes, dried cranberries, and dried apricots. At the last minute, I added slices of Granny Smith and Gala apples. I also threw in some pecans and pomegranate seeds. Instead of left-over turkey, I used chicken from the Chestnut Farm CSA. The friend with whom I was making dinner slathered the chicken breast with sour cream, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and baked it in the oven. It was succulent and had an intense chicken flavor that is hard to find in mass-produced chicken – chicken that actually tastes like chicken!

The chicken breast was still warm and very juicy when I added it to the salad. I created a salad dressing using some apple butter from a batch that another friend recently made as a base. I added cider vinegar, olive oil, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. I had planned on adding shallots, but it was so good as it was that I decided to leave well enough alone. The apple butter had a strong clove flavor, so I didn’t need to add any ground cloves to the dressing, but if I had been using an apple butter that lacked a strong hit of clove, I would have had to add some.

The dressing was viscous and thick, so I dropped little bits of it onto the salad using the tip of a spoon.

For dessert my friend prepared roasted pears, a recipe that she said she got from John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger’s recipe for a salad that calls for pears and blue cheese. She simply brushed the pear halves with olive oil and then seasoned them with salt and pepper, and roasted them. I felt somewhat dubious that a pear seasoned with salt and pepper would make a good dessert – but it did, especially when the warm pear halves were topped with Maple Walnut ice cream from Toscanini’s. My friend confessed to me that she was not looking forward to having to eat my experimental apple butter dressing. Once she tasted it, however, she said that it was the best dinner she’d had all fall. I think the key is the presence of strong autumnal flavors in a light, refreshing dish – a perfect end to Thanksgiving weekend.

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