I had a friend named Craig who would spend all afternoon on Sunday's cooking chicken. He didn't like to cook after work so he would prepare an entire week's worth of chicken to hold him over until the following weekend. When asked what he would do with all of that chicken, Craig would sort of shrug and reply, "All sorts of things."
I haven't seen Craig in a few years but I suspect this habit hasn't disappeared. The convenience of pre-prepared chicken breast is easily overlooked by an eager home-cook like myself. I plan many meals around the multiple uses of a whole-roasted chicken, but what about when I just want something quick?
Thus the reason that grocery stores like Whole Foods are so popular these days. I went to Whole Foods solely for the purpose of stocking up on organic strawberries that were on sale for $1.99/lb (!) and, as usual, found myself hungry as soon as I walked in the door. I wanted something simple and I was craving those strawberries. I wandered over to their deli section where they a vast assortment of prepared foods and picked out a nicely charred chicken breast. The very polite deli worker wrapped it up for me and I headed home with my chicken and strawberries.
I tossed the strawberries with some fresh spinach and a quick, homemade vinaigrette (champagne vinegar, honey, chives, olive oil, salt, & pepper) and topped it with sliced chicken breast. Tim liked it, too, which means that it wasn't too sweet or girly for his manly appetite.
The more I think about it there really are all sorts of things to do with a cooked chicken breast. Now that the weather is starting to cooperate and offer some nice afternoons for working in the yard, taking the dogs on walks, and lounging on the patio reading books on my new Nook, I am thankful for the short-cuts.
I was going to offer a recipe for the vinaigrette but making great homemade vinaigrette is really more about the method than a recipe. Traditionally vinaigrette's are composed of vinegar, mustard, oil, and salt, but you can play around with those ingredients to meet your tastes. Molly Wizenberg has a great recipe for vinaigrette over at the Spilled Milk Podcast website that would be a great "starter" vinaigrette. For this strawberry salad, I wanted more sweetness so I picked a fruity vinegar and swapped the mustard for honey. The trick is to whisk your oil & vinegar mixture with an ingredient that has some structure--like a dijon mustard or honey--to create an emulsion. The thick creamy texture of the emulsion is what will help your vinaigrette stick to the salad leaves. If you find the perfect combination or want to share a link to your favorite vinaigrette recipe, please come back and share!