Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Provencal Mock Chicken Salad

What do you do when you feel like you've hit the jackpot? Jump up and down screaming or stand still in mute, slack-jawed joy? Wiggle to a happy dance of pure unadulterated ecstasy? Or are you more demure, smiling like the cat who ate the canary? I am like a pinball machine - my eyes light up, my mouth pops open, sometimes sounds emit from my throat, but not always.

After tasting this new creation, all of the above happened and I kept repeating an exultation to the divine, hands raised above my head in rapture. True story, not kidding. That's why this post is showing up now instead of about a month from now - I just had to share and all of the other posts lined up for the blog had to wait.

See those sliced radishes surrounding the mound of salad? They look like garnish but they're actually worshiping at the alter of this dish. They just about jumped off the board and onto the plate in eager anticipation of their role in the photo (and their peppery taste went perfectly with the spinach!)

The truth is this recipe came about because I had a surplus of fresh herbs after being seduced at the Farmers' market and my bundle of tarragon was really huge. Mincing up a ton of tarragon I added some traditional Provencal flavors - dried mustard, red onion and a little wine vinegar - plus a pinch of poultry seasoning, made from scratch inspired by Sage Trifle's recipe. I was tempted to toss in some capers but decided they would overpower the tarragon. I can't wait to introduce this one to my omnivore friends!

Not that I'm comparing myself to Isa Chandra, but as with my experience using her recipes, do take the time to follow all of the steps, it really is worth it. Boiling (or steaming) tempeh with some seasonings is the best method to ensure it absorbs flavors. And don't even think about substituting dried tarragon in this salad, fresh is the only way to go.

Provencal Mock Chicken Salad
(serves 3-4)

8 oz tempeh
1 bay leaf
3 inch sprig fresh rosemary
2 leaves fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 1/3 cups water

1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh tarragon, minced
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (make your own)
3 tablespoons vegannaise
1 teaspoon cider or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper to taste

Cut tempeh in quarters, and slice each quarter through the middle to create 8 thin, square pieces. Place in sauce pan with water, bay leaf, rosemary, sage and marjoram. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until water is almost evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.

In medium mixing bowl combine celery, onion and tarragon. Dice cooled tempeh and add to bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. Serve over your favorite salad greens or tuck into a pita pocket or in a sandwich.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Green Bean Salad with Corn and Basil at Stacey Snacks
Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish at Eats Well With Others
Southwestern Coleslaw with Avocado Dressing and Pepitas at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

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