I came up with this dish when looking to satisfy a craving for Indian food while also trying to use up leftover chicken (many weekends, my husband roasts or smokes a whole bird to provide protein for the week). It’s based on Merrill’s Warm Chicken Salad, which features shredded chicken and tender potatoes crisped in a skillet and then strewn over crunchy Bibb lettuce with red wine vinaigrette.
With juicy red grapes, fresh spinach and herbs, chickpeas, chicken, and naan croutons toasted in garam masala, my updated version doesn’t disappoint; the big jumble of textures and flavors creates a salad that tastes far from leftover. We have to count out the crispy naan croutons in my house to make sure everyone gets an equal share.
Note: Day-old naan works best for croutons. If yours is fresh, tear it in half and lightly toast it first, to dry it out. For more information, read my full story here.
Test Kitchen Notes
Throughout the cold-weather season, we rely on pantry ingredients like dried herbs and spice blends to transport our kitchens to a warmer place. That's why we've partnered with The Spice Hunter, makers of a fragrant Garam Masala blend, to bring you this recipe. —The Editors
2 to 4
For the salad
2 1/2 teaspoons
garam masala, such as The Spice Hunter's garam masala blend, divided, plus more to taste
piece day-old naan bread (about 3 ounces), torn into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups
finely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
red grapes, halved
1 to 1 1/2 cups
loosely packed baby spinach, roughly chopped or torn
For the lemony vinaigrette
lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To make the lemony vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with a few pinches of salt and pepper. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil and keep whisking until emulsified. Adjust the seasoning and acidity to taste. (Alternatively, put all the ingredients in a small jar, put the lid on, and shake until emulsified.)
In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons vinaigrette and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, stirring to dissolve. Add the torn naan, stirring to evenly coat with the vinaigrette and garam masala, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until crisp. Transfer croutons to a plate and wipe out (or rinse) the skillet.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons vinaigrette and the remaining 2 teaspoons garam masala, stirring to dissolve. Add the chicken, chickpeas, and cilantro (or parsley) to the pan. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the chicken and chickpeas are warmed through; turn down the heat if the garam masala starts to burn. Taste and add salt and more garam masala, if desired. Remove skillet from heat. Let cool for a few minutes, then toss in the grapes, spinach, and a little more vinaigrette, if desired.