This is one of those ‘what is there to eat’ meals that we all experience at some time or another, when you open the fridge door and hope something’s left from last night’s dinner. You’d need at least half a chicken to feed 4 people, so if you have a little less you’ll need to bulk it out with extra pasta, beans, peas, tomatoes etc., or just serve the salad with lots of bread spread generously with butter mixed with finely chopped garlic that has been grilled or baked until golden.
As for the type of pasta to use, there are limitless possibilities these days, but I’d recommend a short rather than a spaghetti-type pasta – something like fusilli, penne or farfalle. If it’s a cold day outside, you can serve this salad warm simply by using freshly cooked pasta straight from the pot and chicken that you’ve gently warmed in a pan or in the oven.
First make the dressing, place the tomatoes, ginger, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and whiz on high speed for 30 seconds. The finished dressing should be lump-free. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then add the extra-virgin olive oil and whiz for another 5 seconds.
Cut the chicken flesh across the grain into nut-sized chunks and place in a bowl. Cut the larger oak leaves into 5 cm pieces and add to the bowl; keep the smaller inside ones whole and set side to finish the salad. Add the drained cooked pasta and the beans. Either cut the chèvre into small chunks with a knife or break it apart with your fingers and add the pieces to the bowl.
Mix all the salad ingredients together and divide between 4 bowls. Scatter them with the reserved inside leaves and drizzle with the dressing.
© 2005 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.