I belong to a couple of 'foodie' groups on Facebook, and I love to look at other people's food photos and hear what they've been cooking. I often find that this inspires me to make something similar, and this is exactly what happened last week. A friend posted that she had made and loved Jamie Oliver's Epic Roast Chicken Salad, and as the weather was set fair (gloriously sunny actually!) an epic salad sounded just the thing! The recipe was from a Jamie book that I don't have, and I couldn't seem to find the exact recipe online. However, I did find a lovely blog by a lady called Elspeth who had also created a fabulous chicken salad, based on the Jamie recipe. I ended up using this as a basis (thanks Elspeth!) but made a few changes myself.
I actually made this using chicken leftovers as we had roasted a large chicken the night before. I had both the breasts left, so began the layering of the salad by tearing these up, cold, and putting them on a large plate.
I topped the chicken with the roasted tomato layer. I had roasted these simply in a slug of olive oil with a handful of garlic cloves, and laid slices of streaky bacon over the top so that the bacon fat would flavour the tomatoes. I also laid the leftover chicken skin on top of the tomatoes to re-crisp. For the last 10 minutes of the tomato roasting time, I tore up a small ciabatta loaf and tossed it into the tomato pan, letting it soak up all the tomatoey and bacony juices before going back into the oven to crisp up. This glorious pan-full was tipped over the chicken, breaking up the now-crispy bacon and chicken skin as I did so.
Some simply steamed green beans were added, hot, to the top of the heap, before the whole lot was dressed with the mix of wholegrain mustard, fresh mint, lemon juice (I subbed this for cider vinegar) and olive oil described in Elspeth's recipe.
To finish I scattered over the toasted salted pumpkin seeds that I had prepared earlier.
This was a fabulous supper, and was also enough for me to have leftovers for lunch the following day. I think it's important to eat the ciabatta croutons while they are still warm and crispy, so I made myself some fresh ones to go with the leftovers.
I don't know how far away this is from the 'original' Jamie Oliver recipe, but to be honest I think it's a formula that can be successfully adapted according to the ingredients you have to hand. Some chopped spring onions would be a nice addition for example, and perhaps fresh basil in place of the mint? But definitely a recipe that I will try again.