These macerated black pepper strawberries upgrade any summer salad & pair beautifully with fresh greens, crispy chicken, creamy avocado and a light balsamic dressing that lets these ingredients shine.
For the black pepper strawberries:
For the crispy chicken:
For the creamy golden balsamic dressing:
For the salad:
MACERATE: Add the chopped strawberries to a non reactive bowl, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Use a spoon to toss the strawberries gently to coat. Set them aside for at least 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the strawberries have released some of their juices and the inside of the strawberries are lightly pink instead of pure white. Set aside until it is time to assemble the salad.
CRISP: Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken skin with a little salt, to taste. Pour the oil into the preheated skillet and when hot, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the skin is golden & crisp, about 7 – 10 minutes or so, rotating the pieces half way through, so that they brown evenly. When the skin has browned, flip the chicken over and continue to cook until the thighs are cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet & transfer to a plate to rest. Allow to cool enough to handle, then slice the crispy skinned chicken into pieces, reserving the resting juices to add to the dressing, if you like.
EMULSIFY: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the tahini, balsamic vinegar and reserved juices from the macerated black pepper strawberries. Next whisk in the reserved juices from the chicken, then slowly add the oil a little at a time, whisking as you go, until the dressing is glossy. (You can also throw this together in a mini food processor, just take care not to over process the dressing or the olive oil can become bitter). Season with the salt and pepper.
DRESS: Slice the avocado. Add the arugula and watercress to a large mixing bowl and add the dressing a little at a time, tossing gently until the greens are lightly coated to your taste. Reserve any leftover dressing to serve on the side, if you like.
LAYER: Divide the dressed greens between plates or pile onto a serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to layer the black pepper strawberries over the greens, leaving behind any extra juices in the marinating bowl so that the greens don’t get too wet. Top the greens with the sliced chicken and avocado, then scatter with the pine nuts and fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.