Grain-Free Crispy Chicken Salad with Quick Pickled Veggies


I'm never sure how to start my posts. Should I say something witty that will catch the attention of those reading quick snippets on Facebook or dive right in and get on with the subject at hand? Being a rather direct person in general, I tend to dive right in with everything. Should I quit my job and become a private chef? "Why Not?" Should we move to Napa Valley, "SURE!" Three months later we were there. Even when texting or emailing I tend to dive right in without saying the typical pleasantries first. (If I've done this to you, please accept my apology at large right now and know that I am working on this issue!) So today, I'm going to dive right in. You see, we are getting ready to go away to celebrate 24 years of marriage and then go on a couple of vacations and renovate our kitchen over the summer. I don't have lots of time for fluff these days, but I certainly want to keep my readers going with fun summer recipes. This Grain-Free Crispy Chicken Salad came about because I was intending to make Champagne Chicken on our actual anniversary date a couple of weeks ago, but realized I didn't have any chicken broth or cream. The sauce I attempted to make without these ingredients was disgusting and got thrown out so I was left with pan-sauteed chicken and nothing to put on it. Needing a quick fix to save dinner, I perused my fridge and found fennel and cucumbers. Thinking "hey pickled things and fried things go GREAT together", I decided to throw them in some vinegar and make "quickles". After that dinner evolved and I was able to create a reasonably nice dinner to celebrate on a typical Monday night with our boys! Now this weekend, we get to actually go out and celebrate with someone else doing all the cooking. For now here's the recipe. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Grain-Free Crispy Chicken Salad with Quick Pickled Veggies
Author: Christi Flaherty
Serves: 4 servings
  • Quick Pickled Veggies
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Persian cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 small radishes, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1 carrot, julienned, spiralized or grated
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced and soaked in water with a pinch of salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt, optional
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Chicken
  • 1-1.5 pounds chicken breast cutlets (if cutlets not available use chicken breasts and see *Notes)
  • 1 1/4 cups almound flour
  • 1 1/4 cups potato starch or tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • coconut oil or avocado oil for shallow frying
  • Salad
  • 6 cups of mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small avocado, sliced
  • 2 ounce block of Parmesan or Grano Padano, shaved with peeler
Quick Pickled Veggies
  1. Prepare all veggies for "quickles" and place in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well with clean hands or tongs. Let sit while you prepare chicken and salad.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack on a large cookie sheet next to stovetope. Prepare chicken according to *Notes if you weren't able to find cutlets. Place remaining dry ingredients on a large plate and mix together well. Season chicken on both sides with additional salt and pepper. Heat 1/4" of oil in cast iron skillet (or other large skillet) until a pinch of flour sizzles immediately on contact with oil. Turn each chicken piece on all sides in the flour mixture until evenly coated then place straight into the oil. You may have to do a couple of batches depending on amount of chicken pieces you have. When they have browned on both sides transfer to the prepared cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake for 5-10 minues or until the thickest part registers 160 degrees.
  1. Arrange a quarter of the greens on each plate. Top each pile of greens with a quarter of the chicken, a quarter of the quick pickled veggies (straining off extra liquid and reserving) and a quarter of sliced avocadoes. Shave the parmesan over the top. Whisk the olive oil into the pickled veggie liquid and drizzle over the top of the salads.
*If you cannot find chicken cutlets, place the chicken in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to partially freeze (or cut them before they are totally defrosted if they were frozen in the first place) and then carefully cut them from one side to the other until you go almost all the way through. Unfold to make the chicken breast look like an open book then make a final cut in the middle of the "chicken book" to make separate and make two pieces. If they are quite large, you can cut each one in half horizontally like I had to do. That's why the pieces of chicken in the photo are smaller.