Back in September, 2002 there was a recipe for Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Avocado Food & Wine that I decided to try because I happened to have a bottle of the recommended wine pairing (a 2001 Lindemans Padthaway chardonnay) on hand. This is the first and only time to date that I’ve flipped through a magazine and realized “Hey! I have that wine! I’ll make this recipe to go with it!” I’m normally very obtuse about wines, and while we drink tons of it, I know nothing about any of them. Clearly this recipe was one I was meant to make, and sure enough, it’s spectacularly delicious. Of course, how could it not be grand? Take a look at what’s in it:
And one of my very favorite veggies:
I get a handful of heads of fennel a year from the farm, so I was extravagantly excited that they were part of this week’s haul. A chicken and bulgur salad dinner is pretty close to perfection.
Here’s the deal with making it:
1 cup bulgur
1 cup boiling water
2 boneless chicken breasts*
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp grapeseed oil**
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 large scallions, thinly sliced
2 Hass avocados, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
*The recipe specifies to use boneless breasts with the skin on. I use boneless skinless, because it’s easier to find, and I tend to avoid chicken skin in general.
**Every year I buy grapeseed oil, and every year I use it just for this, then, a year later, throw it out when cleaning out the pantry. So this time around I used olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 500°. In a heatproof bowl, cover the bulgur with the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand until the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, coat the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. (Since I was using olive oil instead of grapeseed in the dressing, I actually used vegetable oil in this “coating the chicken” step. Grapeseed oil is nice because it has a crazy high smoke point, and with such a hot oven, I was kind of paranoid that the olive oil, which has a low smoke point, would, like, burn or something. I have no idea if that would actually happen. Vegetable oil has a higher smoke point than olive, so I decided to circumvent the issue entirely by using it instead.) Roast the chicken on the top shelf for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and just cooked through; let cool. Slice the breasts on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick.
In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice with the basil, lemon juice, scallions and the remaining 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil; season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the bulgur, chicken, avocados, fennel and tomatoes with the vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper. Mound the salad onto plates and serve.
You know that drooling sound Homer Simpson makes when he’s thinking of donuts? You know, after the “Mmm… donuts” thing? That’s what sound I’m making right now, thinking of this salad.
(Oh, and it should be noted that the fennel and basil for this came from the Farm, and the scallions? Came from our garden! We planted about 10,000, and managed a whopping harvest of four of them. Go us!)