Chicken Salad with Gorgonzola, Walnuts, and Figs

Mild grilled chicken, tender spinach leaves, bitter radicchio, sweet chewy figs, toasted walnuts, and creamy tangy Gorgonzola cheese--this combination of contrasting flavors and textures is unforgettable.

Yield: 4
Recipe from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 6 dried figs
  • 2/3 cup walnut halves
  • 1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 head radicchio, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 quarts)
  • 12 ounces spinach, large stems removed and leaves washed (about 1 1/2 quarts)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1/4 pound Gorgonzola, crumbled

Preparation

  1. 1. Put the water and the figs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and let stand until the figs are plump, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the figs and cut them in quarters.
  2. 2. In a small frying pan, toast the walnuts over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or toast them in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. 3. Light the grill or heat the broiler. Rub the chicken with the 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the rosemary. Grill or broil the chicken until just done, about 5 minutes per side. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1/4-inch slices.
  4. 4. Put the radicchio and the spinach in a large bowl. Add the remaining 1/3 cup oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss. Add the vinegar and toss again. Put the radicchio and spinach on plates. Top with the sliced chicken, and then the Gorgonzola and walnuts. Put some of the figs in the center of each salad.
  5. Wine Recommendation: Avoid big reds; walnuts have quite a bit of tannin, which when combined with tannic wines can create overwhelming dryness. A fresh, fruity Bardolino is perfect for this complex salad.
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