Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Easy-to-make lettuce dishes

Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

Lettuce is the star in these easy meal ideas

Poached chicken on early greens

Serves 4

A simple preparation that features boneless chicken breasts poached in an aromatic liquid. The flavour-infused chicken is then served over young lettuce, and the entire dish is drizzled with a bright Asian-style dressing. Perfect for early-season alfresco dining.

For dressing:
1-2    fresh hot chilies, finely chopped (use rubber gloves when working with chilies; if you remove the membrane and seeds, they will be milder)
3    cloves garlic, minced
2    tbsp. (30 mL) light brown sugar
1    tbsp. (15 mL) rice vinegar
3    tbsp. (45 mL) fresh lime juice
3    tbsp. (45 mL) fish sauce

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl to combine well. Set aside.

For chicken:
3    coriander stems, roots intact, ends trimmed
1    tbsp. (15 mL) black peppercorns
4    slices fresh ginger root
2    green onions, coarsely chopped
½    lemon, thinly sliced
1    cup (250 mL) dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
1    tbsp. (15 mL) salt
4    boneless chicken breasts
4    cups (1 L) young lettuce
1    cup (250 mL) sugar snap peas or snow peas, blanched, refreshed in ice water
8    asparagus spears, trimmed, blanched, refreshed in ice water

For garnish:
½    cup (125 mL) coriander leaves
¼    cup (60 mL) mint leaves
Fresh lime wedges

Place coriander, peppercorns, ginger, onions, lemon, wine and salt in a large saucepan. Add 8 cups (2 L) of water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add chicken breasts and give a quick stir; turn off heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow chicken to poach for 2 hours.

To serve: Evenly distribute lettuce, peas and asparagus among four plates. Remove chicken, pat dry and slice on the diagonal into ½-inch (1-cm) pieces. Place atop greens and generously drizzle dressing over each serving. Garnish with coriander, mint and lime. Serve immediately.

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