This recipe came from searching for a healthy yet interesting dish, which would make a filling and nutritious main meal. I’m really happy with how this turned out and would definitely serve it to the more health conscious amongst my friends! At this time of year, I especially love eating lighter meals with fresh salad & vegetables and prefer to steer clear of heavier carby meals, so I’ll definitely be making this again! The tamarind sauce is the star of the show in this recipe, as it packs real flavour (as well as some optional spiciness) into this salad. This nutty dark sauce provides a lovely contrast with the fresh, crisp ingredients like the sugarsnap peas and carrots.
I came across this recipe on Hemsley and Hemsley, a food blog of two sisters who champion healthy eating. What I like about them is that while they make healthy food choices, they don’t compromise on strong flavours. Instead of using carbs in this recipe, courgetti is used – for those of you who may not be familiar with this term, it’s essentially strands of courgette which give a meal the feel of having a carb like spaghetti or noodles. So it’s nice and light, but has also been a particularly popular ingredient in a lot of Paleo and gluten-free diets. While ideally you’d want to use a spiraliser to make the courgetti strands, I just used a peeler which takes a bit longer but was absolutely fine for making more of a tagliatelle ribon-styled courgetti. You can do this by either cutting the courgette in half and using the edges to cut your strands, or by cutting the courgette into slices (as shown in the picture) if you find this easier. If you’re still unsure, just pop me a question in the comments!
This makes enough for two very generous main meal portions or could instead be used as four starters. While it’s a pretty long ingredients list, I’d encourage you to use any remaining ingredients to boost the vegetable intake alongside other meals in the form of sides or alternatively, to bring this salad to work for lunch. All the veg and salad ingredients can easily be made ahead of time, and all you need to do is bring the tamarind sauce in a little container ready to dress when you’re at work. This colourful sight is sure to cause lunch envy in the office! Equally, don’t let the tamarind paste put you off as a more ‘exotic ingredient’ if you’re not used to cooking with this. It’s available in most UK supermarkets and if you’re in London, you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice with these types of ingredients in even the larger supermarket chains in more diverse areas. For me, this is proper little girl in a sweetshop territory.
– 4 chicken thighs, seasoned with salt
– 1 courgette, cut/spiralised into thin strands or ribbons
– 1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded or roughly grated
– 1 handful of sugar snap peas, sliced diagonally
– 1 large carrot, cut into small batons
– 3 spring onions, finely sliced
– 2 large handfuls of spinach or alternative salad leaves
– 1 handful of fresh coriander or mint, roughly chopped
– 1 lime, quartered
– 3 tsp almond butter
– 2 tbsp tamarind paste
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
– 1 chilli, sliced or a pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
– 120ml water
How to make it…
1. First, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 6. Prepare your chicken thighs and cover them in foil before putting them in the oven to keep the moisture in. When the oven is hot, cook the chicken for around 30-40 minutes. If you’re keeping the skins on, remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to allow the skin to become a little crispy. When the chicken is cooked through, leave to cool and then roughly cut into pieces.
2. Prepare your vegetables as indicated in the ingredients list. For the courgetti, take the courgette and use either a spiraliser or a peeler to create thin strands or ribbons respectively.
3. Taking the serving plates or a large salad bowl, start layering up the salad. First, put the courgetti in the middle of the bowl and place the salad leaves around it. Then, layer on the mangetout, carrots and red cabbage. Take half of both the spring onions and the chopped herbs, and sprinkle these on top of the salad.
4. To make the tamarind sauce, add the almond butter, tamarind paste, maple syrup, garlic, chilli (if using) and water to a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and then leave to gently simmer for 8 minutes. Take off the heat.
5. Add the chicken to the tamarind sauce and leave for a few minutes to let the flavour soak in. Then, add to the salad. (If you’re making this as a lunch recipe to take to work, add the chicken to the salad now and add the tamarind dressing when you’re ready to eat). Garnish the salad with the remaining spring onions and herbs, and serve with the quartered limes.
Adapted from: Hemsley and Hemsley’s Chicken Tamarind Salad