A summery Sardinian salad of chicken, courgettes and burrata

This is another very useful ‘one pot’ salad – a meal in itself comprising protein (the chicken), carbohydrate (the fregola), and of course the mandatory greens (the courgettes). The pesto and basil make it summery; and the burrata gives a creamy richness. Finally, the walnut pieces buried in the fregola are like buried treasure…a sort of additional earthy surprise. Wonderful!

Fregola is a Sardinian pasta made from semolina. To taste it’s a sort of cross between orzo pasta and pearl barley although softer than both, but if you can’t find fregola, you could substitute with either. What you can’t really substitute is the burrata, unless you use Stracciatella (effectively the innards of a burrata). You will read that mozzarella will do, but it really won’t!

This recipe is enough for about three people. If there are just the two of you you can do much with leftovers – see the paragraph below. But if there are four of you, you can easily bulk it out by adding more chicken, or more fregola.

What to do with any leftovers

If there are leftovers there are endless things to be done as the salad warms up well in a frying pan. For example, I fried a red pepper, some defrosted prawns, and some garlic. I added the leftover salad to the frying pan to warm through (I broke it up a bit first). And then I served the contents of the pan on a bed of shredded lettuce, and drizzled over some finishing oil and balsamic vinegar. It was almost better than first time around!

Recipe for a summery Sardinian salad of chicken, courgettes and burrata

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 2 medium courgettes (about 400g/14 oz)
  • olive oil
  • 150g/1 cup fregola – the large type. Or use orzo pasta, or pearl barley
  • 325g/11 oz ‘sack’ of burrata – or a 200g/7 oz tub
  • 60g/2 oz Parmesan, grana Padano, or pecorino shavings
  • 250g/9 oz leftover cooked chicken – or uncooked.
  • about four tablespoons pesto (fresh if you can get it)
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • a few leaves of basil
  • 2 tbsps of roughly chopped walnuts
  • smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  • vermouth for deglazing if using uncooked chicken

Method

  1. Dry fry the roughly chopped nuts in a large frying pan. Set aside.
  2. Pour some oil into the pan and warm it.
  3. Warm a serving plate.
  4. Cut the courgettes on the diagonal, get the oil quite hot, and fry the courgettes on both sides, sprinkling over a little salt.
  5. Once fried, lay out on kitchen paper.
  6. Cook the fregola (or the orzo pasta, or pearl barley) according to the instructions on the packet – it will be about ten minutes probably in salted, boiling water. Stir the water to ensure the grains don’t stick together. Drain, and pour over a little olive oil and stir through – again to stop the grains sticking.
  7. If you’re using uncooked chicken, fry on both sides in the same pan that you used for the courgettes (no need to wash!) and deglaze with some vermouth. Cut the chicken into strips.
  8. Mix the chicken with the pesto.
  9. Mix the nuts into the fregola.
  10. Make a bed of the fregola-nut mixture on the serving plate.
  11. Lay the courgettes over it artistically. Tear the burrata, and lay over artistically.
  12. Sprinkle over the lemon zest, and drizzle over the lemon juice.
  13. Grind over the pepper.
  14. Tear over the basil leaves, and drop around the shavings of hard cheese.
  15. Serve – either still warm, or at room temperature. If you want to you can keep the salad warm in a warming oven, but if you do this, add the burrata just before serving.
chicken and courgette salad recipe
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