Chicken parmigiana salad

Chicken parma in salad form, with bonus parmesan crisps.
Chicken parma in salad form, with bonus parmesan crisps. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Kid-friendly

Parma. But make it a salad. I am addicted to converting all foods where possible to a salad – you can throw a bit of excellent green leaf at anything and morph it into one that is equally spectacular to the original. Case in point.

Ingredients

Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

200g can chopped tomatoes

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp balsamic vinegar (or to taste, depending on sweetness of sauce)

salt and pepper to season

Chicken

4 skinless chicken thighs

1 tbsp milk

2 eggs

about 1 cup plain flour for dredging

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

rice bran oil, for frying

4 x 1cm-thick slices of mozzarella (taken from a ball of mozzarella)

½ tbsp chilli flakes

½ tbsp dried oregano

Salad

2 avocados, hulled and sliced

500g medley tomatoes, halved

1 cup loosely packed herbs such as basil, oregano and flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

small handful baby kale leaves, coarsely torn

Parmesan crisps

¾ cup finely grated parmesan (I used a Microplane)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).

2. For the sauce, add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and place over low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes while you prepare the remaining elements, stirring occasionally to prevent catching.

3. Make the parmesan crisps by lining a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the grated parmesan into rough circles, about the size of a coffee mug in a thin layer. Don't worry to much about the shape as much as trying to have a relatively even scattering of cheese so they cook evenly. Pop in the oven and cook until golden, between 5 and 10 minutes. Set aside to cool on the tray.

4. Unfold the chicken thighs so they are laid flat on a chopping board and use a meat mallet to flatten. As a general guide you want them to look half the thickness of what they did before you took to them with a mallet.

5. Make a dredging station: Combine the milk, eggs, garlic and onion powders in a large shallow bowl, giving them a quick whisk with a fork to combine. Place flour in another bowl and the panko in a third bowl.

6. Dredge thighs in flour, knocking off excess, then dip into egg wash, letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge in panko, pressing firmly to adhere, ensuring no part of the chicken is bare. Gently shake off excess and return to the chopping board.

7. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to be 2cm deep, and once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken thighs, making sure you don't overcrowd the pan (you may need to fry the chicken in batches). Cook until the exterior is crisp and golden, about 1 minute, then turn and cook for an additional minute.

8. While the chicken is frying, pour the sauce into the base of a baking dish. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and top each piece with a slice of mozzarella, and sprinkle over the chilli flakes and oregano.

9. Pop in the oven and cook until the mozzarella has melted and is looking golden in spots, about 5-10 minutes, any longer than this and you risk overcooking the chicken.

10. Remove from the oven and set aside while you add all the salad ingredients to a bowl and give them a quick toss to incorporate. Make a well in the centre of your salad bowl and scoop as much of the sauce remaining in the baking dish into the centre, this will act like a dressing for the salad. Carefully slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces, as it will still be hot, and place on top. Scatter over parmesan crisps, season with salt and pepper and serve warm.