Smoked chicken, green bean and borlotti bean salad with fig dressing

Smoked chicken, green bean and borlotti bean salad with fig dressing

By
From
The Sunday Night Book
Serves
4
Photographer
Patricia Niven

In early summer, when the local fig trees start to come into leaf, I usually pick some of the tender young leaves and steep them in some cider vinegar or white wine vinegar for a couple of weeks. The infused vinegar imparts the most delicious flavour to salad dressings. I’ve used dried figs in a similar way here, for a more autumnal salad – but if you happen to have some fig-leaf vinegar, by all means use that, or try it with fresh figs in late summer. I also make an elderflower vinegar, which I use in dressings or marinades for fish and poultry.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g green beans, topped and tailed
400g fresh borlotti beans in pods
or 1/2 x 400 g tin borlottis
25g walnuts
1 good-sized butterhead lettuce, leaves separated
400g smoked chicken meat, shredded
sea salt
black pepper
bread, to serve

For the fig dressing

Quantity Ingredient
30g dried figs, any hard tops removed
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 generous tablespoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
90ml grapeseed or sunflower oil

Method

  1. For the fig dressing, soak the dried figs in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain. Pour the vinegar over the figs and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. Transfer the figs and vinegar into a small food processor, add the mustard and whizz until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in both oils to form a nice emulsified dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and, when the water is at a rolling boil, throw in the green beans and cook until they are just tender, about 4 minutes. Lift out the beans and plunge them into cold water to refresh, so they keep their bright green colour, then drain well. If using fresh borlotti beans, pod them and then cook for 10 minutes in the boiling water. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the water, then drain well. If using tinned borlottis, give them a good rinse and drain well.
  3. Toast the walnuts under a hot grill or in a 180°C oven for about 3 minutes, or until the skins come away easily. While they are still warm, wrap in a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper and give them a rub to take off the skins and break them up a little.
  4. Put the lettuce leaves into a large serving bowl with the beans, walnuts, chicken and a little salt and pepper. Add some of the dressing and gently toss everything together, then add more dressing to taste. Serve the salad straight away, with bread for mopping up the juices.
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