For a creative chicken salad, we were inspired by the flavors of Morocco: apricots, lemon and warm spices.
To give our dressing complex flavor, we reached for garam masala, a traditional spice blend of coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. We also added a little more coriander, honey, and smoked paprika for depth.
Blooming the spices in the microwave deepened their flavors for an even bolder dressing. Chickpeas further echoed the Moroccan theme and lent heartiness, and crisp romaine combined with slightly bitter watercress made the perfect bed of greens for our toppings. Reserving a bit of the dressing to drizzle on just before serving made the flavors pop.
MOROCCAN CHICKEN SALAD WITH APRICOTS AND ALMONDS
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch smoked paprika
1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 tablespoon honey
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped coarse
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces (4 cups) watercress
1/2cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chicken well on first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken, add 1/2 cup water, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until chicken registers 160 F, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then slice 1/2 inch thick on bias. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave 1 tablespoon oil, garam masala, coriander, and paprika in medium bowl until oil is hot and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk 3 tablespoons lemon juice, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into spice mixture. Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining oil.
In large bowl, combine cooled chicken, chickpeas, apricots, shallot, parsley, and half of dressing and toss to coat. Let mixture sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into remaining dressing.
Toss romaine, watercress, and almonds together in serving bowl, drizzle remaining dressing over top, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with chicken mixture and serve.