Another day, another tasty appetizer - and unlike yesterday's delicious-but-admittedly-butter-drenched shrimp, today's recipe is New Year's Resolution- and waistline-friendly. Full of flavor and color, this recipe makes a meal out of shredded chicken, chopped veggies, and cooked pasta, all tucked into fresh lettuce leaves.
The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Pasta cookbook, with a few changes (of course!), and provides a welcome change of pace from the usual bite-sized or fried appetizer offerings. In fact, this recipe may have changed the way I think about appetizers for good! I'm not sure why I never think to serve salads, pasta or otherwise, as appetizers, but I'll certainly try to incorporate them in the future.
The original recipe calls for the salad to be served with a red wine vinaigrette. Although we made the vinaigrette for our New Year's feast, I should note that everyone preferred the salad without it. Between the onions, the peppers, and lots of fresh parsley, this dish has plenty of flavor of its own, so I'd really recommend not making the vinaigrette. Still, I've provided the recipe for those who'd like to give it a try.
Italian Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups
based on this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded by hand (top tip: use a rotisserie chicken for ease and flavor!)
1/2 slivered almonds, toasted
1 lb farfalle pasta, freshly cooked
1/2 cup (about 1 pepper) roasted red pepper, diced
1/2 cup (about 1 pepper) roasted yellow pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup capers, drained (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups Red Wine Vinaigrette (optional, recipe below)
12 butter lettuce or belgian endive leaves, washed (about 2 heads)
Shaved parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and allow to cool. In a large mixing bowl, toss together chicken, almonds, peppers, onion, parsley, and capers. Stir in pasta and enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate salad until you are ready to serve. Then, place 1 lettuce cup on a small plate and fill with chicken salad. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, garnish with shaved parmesan, and serve.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. Gradually add the oil while blending and blend until emulsified. Be sure to stir the mixture prior to using!
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