Chicken Salad With Fennel and Charred Dates
The unlikely inspiration for this savory-sweet salad comes from Lilia, an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, where vanilla gelato is adorned with sea salt, honey, olive oil and fennel pollen for a dessert that is citrusy, creamy and fresh. The savory spin goes like this: Thinly slice two fennel bulbs, then mix with shallots and shredded cooked chicken. Dates cook in olive oil so their outsides blister and their insides become caramel-like and soft. Fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes are added to the skillet, which creates a spiced oil for dressing the salad.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2small fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds total), tough outer layers removed, fronds reserved, stalks thinly sliced, bulbs halved and thinly sliced through the root
- 1shallot, thinly sliced
- ¼cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons), plus more to taste
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 pound)
- ½cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
- 2teaspoons fennel or coriander seeds
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
Step 1In a large bowl, toss together the sliced fennel, shallot and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top, but don’t stir.
Step 2In a medium (10-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the dates and cook, stirring halfway through, until blistered in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, turn off the heat, then add the fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes. Swirl until sizzling and fragrant, then immediately pour the oil and dates over the chicken. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, red-pepper flakes and lemon juice. Top with some torn fennel fronds.