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Spiced chicken and lentil salad

Neil Perry
Neil Perry

This delicious salad doubles as a main meal and while it flies under the carbohydrate radar, it's certainly soaring in flavour. It's best to marinate the chicken breast before cooking, but to save time you could make this salad using torn pieces of roast chicken. Verjuice, made from the juice of unfermented grapes, is less harsh than regular vinegar, but if you need to substitute it in the dressing, use lemon juice.

Simple healthy lunch, side or main meal.
Simple healthy lunch, side or main meal. Photo: William Meppem


2 large skinless chicken breast fillets

1 tbsp olive oil

For the spice rub

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp chopped thyme leaves

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 tbsp olive oil

For the lentil salad

1/2 cup puy lentils (French lentils)

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1/2 small carrot, finely diced

1 bay leaf

pinch of sea salt

1 cup chicken stock

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 celery stalk, finely sliced

large handful of baby rocket leaves

1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

For the dressing

3 tbsp whole-egg mayonnaise

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

pinch of sea salt

freshly ground white pepper

1 tbsp verjuice (approx)



FOR THE SPICE RUB, mix spices until well combined. Pound garlic, thyme and salt using a mortar and pestle, then add spices and olive oil to create a paste. Rub paste all over chicken and refrigerate for 2 hours.


RINSE LENTILS and place in a large saucepan with onion, carrot, bay leaf and salt. Pour in chicken stock and 1 cup water, bring to boil and simmer for about 25-30 minutes; the lentils should be tender but still hold their shape. Allow to cool, then drain and discard bay leaf. Whisk together oil and vinegar in a bowl, then mix through cooked lentils. Check seasoning.

IN AN OVENPROOF frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil on a medium heat and seal chicken, about a minute each side. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove and allow to cool.

FOR THE DRESSING, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and seasoning in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the verjuice until the dressing is of pouring consistency.

SLICE THE CHICKEN into thick diagonal pieces. Fold celery, rocket, parsley and lemon zest through lentils. Plate lentils with the chicken and drizzle with dressing.

Photography William Meppem; Jennifer Soo. Styling Hannah Meppem. Food Preparation Nick Banbury

Main ingredient:
Chicken, Lentils, Fresh herbs
Main-course, Lunch, Starter/Entree, Side Dish, Lunchbox
Family meals, Midweek dinner, Picnic, Barbecue


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