the appetizer:

Enjoy classic restaurant favorites from the Tavern on the Green by Kay LeRoy and Jennifer Oz LeRoy, with recipes like Black Pepper Orzo with Lamb Sausage, Feta, and Mint; Tuna Tartare on Ruffled Chips; and Smoked Chicken, Wild Rice and Apricot Salad



Smoked Chicken, Wild Rice
and Apricot Salad

Smoked Chicken, Wild Rice and Apricot Salad

Serves 6


In early autumn, when Central Park is brilliant and the air is still warm enough for city folk to soak up some sun, they head to the Sheep Meadow, the vast expanse of green on view from Tavern's Crystal Terrace. Frisbees fly, soccer balls roll, and picnic baskets hold an astonishing array of gourmet delights. This tasty, makeahead salad is an excellent portable dish for a picnic on a glorious day: It's a meal in itself.

  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth (low-sodium canned is fine)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup wild rice, picked over and well rinsed
  • One 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, completely thawed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup diced dried apricots (about 12 ounces)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 10 ounces smoked chicken or turkey, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped tarragon

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the rice and return to the boil. Reduce the heat so the rice simmers gently, partially cover the pan, and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, until some of the rice grains burst. Remove from the heat and drain off any excess liquid; let stand for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, squeeze the spinach very firmly in small handfuls to extract as much water as possible.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until just tender. Add the pine nuts and stir for about 2 minutes, until slightly golden. Stir in the squeezed spinach, the apricots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the drained wild rice, lemon juice, diced chicken, and tarragon, mixing well. Taste for seasoning and drizzle with a little good olive oil.

The salad may be cooled to room temperature, covered, and refrigerated overnight. If you do this, be sure to return it to room temperature before serving, to reawaken the flavors.

  • from:
    Tavern on the Green
  • by Kay LeRoy and Jennifer Oz LeRoy
  • Artisan 2009
  • 310 pages; Hardback; $35.00 (US) $39.95 (CAN)
  • ISBN-10: 157965357X
  • ISBN-13: 9781579653576
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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