Thursday, 13 June 2013

local chicken salad

A while back I posted about one of my favourite farms here in the Cowichan Valley, Kilrenny Farm.  This is the place I have been coming back to for the past 5 years for our chickens and now they are also making their own pastas.  They make every fresh pasta you can imagine including spelt pastas.

The other night I roasted one of their lovely chickens and the next day I was scrounging around the fridge for something good for lunch.  Fortunately for me, I had a package of Kilrenny spelt fusilli and I quickly realized that leftover roast chicken plus fresh pasta from Kilrenny equals goodness in a bowl.  Now, I realize that chicken pasta salad is not an original idea.  However, I'm sharing this with you because we often find ourselves looking at a full fridge or pantry thinking, there is nothing to eat.  Of course there is always something to eat unless you really are Mother Hubbard and your cupboard is truly bare.  What we often mean is that there is nothing that is instantly ready to eat.  But with a few basic ingredients, you can often make something spectacular at a fraction of the cost of going out.  I'm certain that a "locally grown organic chicken salad made with local fresh pasta, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs" would cost at least $15.00 in a restaurant.  At home, maybe it cost me $4.00?   If that.

This is the part of cooking that is so important to learn.  While we are mastering our favourite recipes,  we are also learning what flavours go well together.  Flavours like garlic, onion and cumin will make a wonderful base for a warming chilli or fresh chillies and lime make a beautiful marinade for seafood.  Cooking is alchemy.  It is the transformation of something simple into something magical.  Just look at what flour, water, yeast and salt turn into, a delicious loaf of bread.   It is is a bit of a miracle really.

Once you learn how to put good flavours together, anything is possible with what is sitting in your refrigerator.  And that is just what I did with this salad.  But before I give you the recipe, I encourage you to get creative.  Add a different vegetable if you don't like fresh tomatoes, add lemon juice instead of vinegar if that is what you have, toss in some kale for some extra vitamins, the possibilities are endless.  I always say that the kitchen is like my sandbox.  I love to create different things and play around with flavours.  Most importantly, I love good food.  So get creative in your kitchen and the next time you are hungry and don't know what to cook, take another look, you might be surprised at what you can put together.

Chicken Pasta Salad

Leftover roast chicken-however much you want in your salad
1 1/2 cups cooked pasta, fusilli is nice
5-6 cherry tomatoes
3 leaves of basil torn or a small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Splash of good Extra Virgin Olive oil
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings (just use a vegetable peeler)
Salt (preferably Maldon or other sea salt)and Pepper to taste

Combine chicken, pasta, tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Toss well until coated.  Add your parmesan on top and enjoy!  This is a great lunch for one but you could easily make this as a summer supper.  It would be lovely with a nice white wine.

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