This is a salad to really make the most of the fragrances and flowers of the lovely fresh herbs that we have in summer. It pairs these with the zing of preserved lemons. I am currently a bit obsessed with these lemons as they add the most amazing fresh flavour to anything, sweet or savoury.
At this time of year it seems a shame to over process herbs. I have been eating handfuls of them in everything I can, noodles, curries and of course salads. They are also fantastic in cocktails, purely to make the most of the herbs of course!
One of the inspirations for this salad was Vietnamese food. I love the way they throw handfuls of fresh mint around. No need to cut the leaves they are left whole for that massive kick of flavour. That is what I have done here. There is a cooling mint sensation to the chicken and a background of thyme from the dressing, then big punches of fresh leaves. This is why I don’t cut the mint and add extra chives, thyme leaves and flowers at the end. As you eat you should get different combinations of herbs in each mouthful.
I especially love the flowers from herbs. Chive flowers add a gorgeous peppery kick and look so beautiful. I love to sprinkle thyme flower in this salad so they tease the senses giving a little burst of extra thyme perfume as you eat.
I also eat smaller version of this salad without the chicken as a snack or starter. The crunch of the beans and the fresh flavours are a great way to wake your tastebuds up for dinner. —Sally Morris 1
fresh red chilli
juice of 2 lemons
Preparing the Salad
chives and chive flowers
fresh thyme with flowers
white wine vinegar
fresh lemon juice
preserved lemon finely sliced
In This Recipe
Slice the chicken breasts ready to marinade. I usually cut one breast into three long fingers. It is better to have plenty of surface to absorb the marinade but cut it too thin and then end result is not as juicy.
Cut up and bruise the mint really well so that the oil imparts the flavour into the lemon juice. Add roughly chopped chilli, the lemon juice and a crack of pepper.
Coat the chicken well and leave for at least an hour, preferably longer if you have time.
Preparing the Salad
To prepare the dressing: Mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar, 2 sprigs of thyme, 4 chives, the preserved lemon, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Make sure to bruise the thyme leaves in your fingertips as you add them and chop the chives finely. This will ensure the aromas from the oils in the herbs will flavour the dressing.
This is basically vinaigrette but should taste unbalanced and too oily at this point. If you add too much vinegar or lemon the salad will be too acidic due to the preserved lemons.
slice the runner beans thinly (about 2mm) and blanch them in salted water until the texture is al dente. Cool them under running water and mix them into the dressing to infuse a little.
Wash the rocket and pea shoots and arrange on plates with sliced radish.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and take off any mint leaves or pieces of chilli or they will just burn as you cook the chicken.
Grill the chicken.
Assemble the salad by putting the runner beans and dressing over the leaves and place the chicken on top.
Finish off by scattering whole mint leaves, chives, thyme leaves, chive flowers and thyme flowers. If you have them also add flowers from rocket or pea shoots, they look beautiful and are delicious.