Southwestern Grilled Chicken Salad with Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

In hindsight, this week should have featured some type of Royal-inspired dinner for us, in tribute to the big honking wedding of the century, but unfortunately it failed to materialize since I was focused instead on the scones and clotted cream for breakfast on Friday for a group of girlfriends who were planning on gathering at my place at 5:00 a.m. to celebrate the nuptials. At first I thought I would be one of just a very few crazy Canucks who was interested enough to rise at 3 a.m. to not miss a minute of the patriotic jubiliation, but as I spoke with friends I realized that many of us were intending on doing the same thing in the solitude of our own homes. Okay, maybe not everyone, but definitely quite a few... and even more once I mentioned the orange juice mimosas and scones. And the promise that they could arrive in your PJs and slippers, with unbrushed hair and teeth, and not be judged. Even my kids, who at the beginning of the week had said incredulously, "Your friends are coming at what time to watch what??," by Thursday night were asking to be woken up at the same godforsaken hour to share the wedding experience. Since we all remember where we were when Princess Diana got married, this will now be our shared memory of Will/Kate.

So I sit here at 3:48 a.m., with my pink plastic tiara in my hair and my blue ring-pop on my ring finger, trying to remember this delicious salad... and it was... while the TV calls to me downstairs to go and watch the pretty bride and her entourage and keep my fingers crossed that this is one Royal couple who manages to defy the odds and hold the marriage together. So forgive me for the brevity of my reflections on this meal... it was a hit but I need to go and watch the wedding coverage and not miss history being made. Lesson learned (again): don't leave things to the last minute.

Another salad as part of our pre-salad month, with a nice combination of different flavours and textures and a full meal in and of itself. Definitely a make-again for next year and I'll try variations on it throughout the summer.

Southwestern Grilled Chicken Salad with Tomato
and Black Bean Salsa
from Fine Cooking
serves four

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half, trimmed
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
kosher salt
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
2 tsp honey
green Tabasco (optional)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
4 ox small cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered or halved
1 large scallion, thinly sliced
9 cups assorted salad leaves
1 medium firm-ripe avocado
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Heat the BBQ or grill. Trim and butterfly the chicken breast. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, brown sugar, coriander, cumin, and salt. Rub some of the spice mixture over both sides of the chicken breast (you won't need it all) and let sit while grill heats.

Clean and oil the grill grate. Grill the chicken for 3 minutes, until edges are white. Flip and cook until done, about 1 to 2 minutes. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, 1 tbsp of the cilantro, the honey, salt and pepper, and a few shakes of the Tabasco (if using). Whisk or shake well to combine.

Combine the black beans, tomatoes, scallion, cilantro and salt in a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp of the dressing and toss gently.

Put the lettuce in a bowl, season with a little salt, and toss with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. (Save some dressing for the chicken.) Arrange the lettuce on a platter. Slice the chicken thinly. Pit and slice the avocado. Arrange the chicken, avocado and salsa on the lettuce. Drizzle with a little dressing over the chicken and avocado. Garnish with the pine nuts and cilantro.

Rest of the week

April 26 Grilled salmon and carrot-raisin salad (all courtesy of the talented Austin while Mom was away on girls' overnight at spa)

April 27 Southwestern grilled chicken salad with tomato and black bean salsa

April 28 Leftover salmon and chicken for the family... I had delicious beet salad out with girlfriends