A light twist on chicken florentine


by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Changing the same old chicken florentine into a refreshing salad

When we eat out at restaurants I like to try new things while my husband, Cam, always stays with his favorites.
   That is okay with me but I have found new and interesting ways to use different ingredients by doing this. Of course I have also disliked numerous entr‚es because of my adventurous spirit. A few months ago after checking out a possible college for my son Daniel, we had an early dinner with my sister-in-law in the Portland area. Since she knew the area we let her choose the restaurant and she chose an upscale Italian restaurant that we don't have around here. Being the adventurous one I was pretty eager to try something new. Since it was an early dinner and we had a late lunch I wasn't very hungry so I was looking for something that sounded light and fresh. Salad didn't sound good but while checking out the salad section I found a dish called Chicken Florentine. It had chicken, capers, olives, spinach and orzo pasta with a lemon flavored dressing. Intrigued by the ingredients I decided to try it.
   The presentation of the meal was fabulous. The spinach had been cut into long thin slices, the chicken had been stir fried in thin pieces and the color of the other ingredients made it look really pleasing to the eye. I was unsure about how much spinach was in the dish but quickly found out that the flavor blend of all the ingredients overshadowed the spinach. When we got home I wrote down all the ingredients I found in this salad with the determination to duplicate it at home. Knowing that Pinenuts are expensive, I began searching for inexpensive ones and while I haven't found inexpensive Pinenuts yet, I think you will find them cheapest in a bulk section in one of the larger stores. If you decide to leave them out you will not miss them too much though. The flavor is still really great. I am still working on it because it is still missing something. But I am pretty happy with this version.
   While doing some research about the name of the dish I found most Florentine recipes come with a creamy white sauce. I prefer the oil and lemon dressing and so I will give it a new name. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have, and by the way I had some leftover and shared it with Cam the next day and he really liked it. While I ate it warm at the restaurant, it was also good cold.
   Fresh Chicken Salad
   4 cups fresh spinach, sliced thinly
   2 cups orzo pasta, cooked (mine was still warm when I put the salad together)
   2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
   2 cups chicken breast, sliced into thin slices and cooked
   1 T capers
   1/2 cup black olives sliced
   1/4 cup red cabbage, sliced really thin
   2-3 tsp pine nuts (optional)
   1/4 cup olive oil
   1 tsp lemon juice
   Salt and pepper to taste
   Mix the spinach, tomato, capers, olives, red cabbage and pine nuts together. Just before serving add the pasta and chicken, carefully tossing them together with the other ingredients. Evenly divide this between 4 plates or bowls. Drizzle the oil and lemon mixture over the salad and serve. Serves 4