2-31: Smoked Chicken Salad

Given the header picture, I suppose it’s not much of a secret that I’ve made some adaptations to 2-31: Smoked Chicken Salad. Namely, that I’ve changed it from a salad to a sandwich. Here’s the thing–it’s a sad salad as written, but can be made into a pretty decent sandwich that doesn’t require anything different than what’s already required/recommended.

See those rolls in the back of the picture (the ones suggested in the blurb above)? Here’s the quick and dirty: cut one open, take the (very few) salad ingredients, stack inside, eat. Not much more to it than that, but if you’d like to see how that went for me in greater detail, please continue reading.

Here’s my tip: if you’re looking for even more of a shortcut, swap Italian dressing for the homemade dressing here–it’s pretty much the same thing.

Ingredients. I don’t currently have a direct meatless equivalent for smoked chicken right now, but I do have these frozen “chicken breasts” that’ll work. I’ve also added some “Provolone cheese” slices along with the shredded “Mozzarella” and swapped cherry tomatoes for the regular type.

I also am using hamburger buns instead of croissants (as they pictured), but croissants would probably be delicious for this. When I was a freshman in college, one of our dining halls had a fancy make-your-own-sandwich-bar thing where they would make me a KILLER salami-on-croissant that I’m still thinking about. Think about it–sweet buttery croissant with dry, salty salami. Add some red onions, fresh lettuce, oil, vinegar, and smoky Provolone cheese…those were good times.

Sorry, I got distracted. OK…back to the sandwich at hand.

Mixing up the dressing. Again, store-bought Italian (or any other vinaigrette) will work just fine if you don’t want to do this part.

I’m going to use their prescribed salad dressing for not one, but three different parts of this sandwich, since the goal was to use all the ingredients. First, I’m going to use it as a marinade for my halved cherry tomatoes.

I’m going to roast these marinated tomatoes in the toaster oven so that they’ll be more flavorful (and easier to eat) in my planned sandwich. You can do this in a regular oven too, just turn it on to 400 degrees. Tomatoes need to roast for about 20 minutes or so, give or take.

While my tomatoes roast, I’m going to use the VERY HOT top of the toaster oven to warm/slightly toast my “rolls” (actually buns). Start with them face down.

If you’re doing this in a regular oven, you can put the buns directly on the racks directly below the tomatoes or use a sheet pan. Buns will toast MUCH faster in the oven, so keep an eye on them.

While those toast/roast, I’m also going to heat up my “chicken breasts” on the stove. If you’re using the prescribed smoked chicken, feel free to skip this part.

After getting some color/flavor. I used some of the dressing for coating these “chicken breasts” as well (use #2).

If you’re doing the smoked chicken (or aren’t cooking your chicken on the stove), just give yours a quick toss in some of the dressing instead.

Checking back on the tomatoes/buns–I flipped everything, and added some “cheese” to each of the bottom buns to warm (but not melt).

If you’re in a regular oven, things will toast/melt faster, so don’t let it get away from you.

Tomatoes cooked down, along with a warmed/slightly browned bun top.

Final use for the dressing–tossing and coating the spinach leaves. Hold onto this (stick back in the fridge if necessary) for now once they’re coated.

Time to assemble. First, start with the Provolone “cheese”, and add the “chicken” (real or otherwise). If you didn’t add extra cheese (or want to cut calories), you can just start with chicken on bread.

Put some roasted tomatoes on top of the “chicken”, and add some shredded “Mozzarella” on top. At this point, put the stack back onto the leftover tomato sheet pan, and pop them back into the still warm oven (even if you’ve already turned if off) for 5 minutes or so to melt.

Get your dressed spinach back out and place a bunch on top of the warmed bottom stack. To finish it, add the browned bun top.

Slice in half, and turn the halves away from each other, as shown. Congratulations–you’ve now made a decent sandwich worthy of any trendy brewpub. Feel free to impress your friends/family/followers with your new skills.

Wasn’t this originally a salad recipe?

Grade: A-