So, about those grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You know, the ones I taught you how to season and grill to perfection earlier this week. Yes, they’re awesome on their own. Seriously, a quick dip in my yummy marinade and bland and boring are out the door. Hello, deliciousness! Deliciousness you can use in this Orange Tarragon Chicken Salad – also known as the Knife Skills Special because you’ll be slicing and dicing those veggies to get your mise en place done. (Your knife skills, tho!)
Fresh Herbs vs Dried Herbs
The marinade in this recipe is a twist on my go-to marinade for grilled chicken breasts, which gets the bulk of its fantastic flavor from lemon zest and fresh or dried herbs. Fresh herbs are awesome but if you have a brown thumb like me, keeping them alive in those picturesque windowsill planters is a problem. Dried herbs can save the day if you don’t have fresh on hand. What’s the difference?
Fresh herbs are, well, fresh. They’re fragrant, flavorful and typically found in your grocery store’s produce section either in bundles or plastic containers. They’re my first choice when cooking but in my real world kitchen they’re not always around because brown thumb (see above) and once I buy the bunch I almost never use them all before they go bad.
Dried herbs are like herb concentrates. Think about those frozen cans of lemonade concentrate. You’d need a ton more fresh lemons to make a pitcher of lemonade using fresh lemons than you would with the concentrate, because the concentrate has more flavor packed into a smaller amount. Same concept applies to dried herbs. You’ll get more flavor using less because the flavor’s concentrated.
This difference in flavor means you can’t just swap out the same amount of fresh herbs if your recipe calls for dried, and vice versa. Remember this ratio – 1 to 3. For every one part of dried herbs you’d use for a recipe, you’ll need THREE TIMES that amount of fresh herbs. So if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of dried thyme you’d need to replace it with 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme to get the same burst of flavor. If your recipe lists 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, you’ll need 1/3 of that amount of dried rosemary (which just happens to be 1 teaspoon).
Orange Tarragon Chicken Salad
For this Orange Tarragon Chicken Salad I’ve swapped the lemon juice and zest for orange and added dried or fresh tarragon to the mix for chicken with a refreshing burst of orange flavor, the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums. Yes, I’m so sick of winter even my tastebuds are craving brighter flavors. Brighter flavors and a salad that eats like a meal, a real meal.
In addition to sliced grilled chicken, this salad’s a glorious mound of fresh veggie crunch – radishes, snow peas, cukes and red bell pepper. Add in the sweetness of the orange segments and the salty feta and you’ve got a flavor for every taste bud.
So get marinating, grilling and slicing! This one’s SOOOO worth washing the cutting board.
I like to marinate in a resealable plastic bag. It makes it easy to squish (technical term) the marinade around so every bit of food is covered. You can also marinate in a shallow pan or baking dish. Just remember to flip the food periodically.
When you’re grilling the chicken, resist the temptation to turn it constantly. Place it on the grill and let it cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn once to cook the other side. This will prevent you from overcooking the chicken and help you get those nice, brown grill marks.
Grill Pan or Grill