Like most people, I completely overindulged over the holiday period and I find myself mid-Jan trying to eat better and exercise more (a decidedly more difficult task during the school holidays!). One way to cut a bit of time in the kitchen and to have things on hand for easy meals is to poach 4 or 5 chicken breasts at a time and shred the meat to use in salads, soups, sandwiches, fajitas, rice paper rolls or anything else you can think of. The easiest way to poach chicken is to bring about 2 litres of chicken stock, with a few sprigs of thyme, to the boil and place 4 or 5 chicken breasts in the boiling liquid. At this point the temperature will drop and it will no longer be boiling. Bring it back to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your chicken pieces. After this turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the poaching liquid. Then shred, store and you are good to go for a few dinners and lunches. This is one easy, yummy idea to use it for. I use quite a bit of ginger because I love how the heat and spice cut through the sweetness of the butternut and foil the softness of the chicken but I know a lot of people are not partial to ginger so, as always, omit or substitute according to your taste.
Spinach Salad with Roast Butternut & Poached Chicken
2 large handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 bunch mint, leaves only
seeds of 1 pomegranate
1/2 a butternut squash, peeled, cut into slices and quartered
1 avocado, quartered and sliced
a large handful of steamed green beans, halved
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and cut into julienne (optional)
2 poached chicken breasts, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbspn balsamic vinegar
1 tspn dijon mustard
1/2 tspn honey
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Line a baking tray and the butternut pieces on it without crowding. Spray or drizzle with a little oil and roast for 40 mins or until golden. Season with salt and pepper.
Place salad ingredients in a serving bowl. Top with butternut and chicken.
Mix dressing ingredients together then drizzle over salad.