I remember first eating pickled grapes at the wonderful Painswick Hotel in Gloucestershire. They were served with the cheeses but I think they are suited perfectly in this salad-to add a burst of mouth-puckering sourness which compliments the smoky richness of the chicken. I buy smoked chicken breasts from Sainsbury’s but you can substitute plain cooked chicken breasts if they are difficult to find. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think hot smoked salmon would make a fine bedfellow for the pickled grapes and chicory too. Pickle the grapes for 2-3 hours, or 24 hours if you’ve got the time. You may not think it, by looking at the rather long list of ingredients, but this is a very simple salad.
- For the salad dressing
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon runny honey
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- For the pickled grapes
- 120ml white wine vinegar
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 200g seedless grapes – a mix of white and red, halved
- For the salad
- 2 heads red chicory (or white), separated into leaves
- 2 smoked chicken breasts, sliced
- 50g walnuts, lightly toasted for 3-4 minutes in a hot pan
- 2-3 handfuls rocket leaves
- For the dressing, put the ingredients in a jar, screw the lid tightly and shake to emulsify. Set aside.
- For the pickled grapes, put the vinegar, sugar and tarragon in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the grapes, stir and leave to cool. When cold chill for up to 24 hours.
- For the salad, arrange the chicory leaves in a wide salad bowl. Top with the sliced chicken breasts and scatter over the walnuts. Drain the grapes -I keep the vinegar to pickle other vegetables-and scatter over the salad. Add the rocket leaves and finally drizzle over the dressing.